Jane Nimi, 40 years, is one person full of life and she has a vision, that of bettering her life. She paints a very vivid picture of a business idea she hopes to bring to life in future. But perhaps what captures my attention is the articulation of the business idea given that Nimi is a class four drop out. I cannot help but wonder, what if she had the opportunity to finish school and attend university? Well that’s for another day.
Nonetheless, about a month ago, Jane Nimi attended a family gathering and was offered an alcoholic drink but she turned it down. Some relatives made fun of her and while at it dared her to carry the drink home which she did. Two week later, the drink was still intact.
By now, you probably are wondering why this story matters. Well, for Nimi turning down an alcoholic drink is a major achievement, she is recovering from alcohol addiction. “It is six months since I stopped consuming alcohol. The journey has been difficult because addiction is an illness,” says Nimi.
For Caritas Nairobi this story matters because it is one about empowerment, transformation and self-reliance. Nimi is a beneficiary of the Agriculture Programme Heifer Exchange Project in Gituamba, Gatundu North. At the time of Nimi’s recruitment into the project in 2016, she was an alcoholic.
Lack of a reliable means to cater for her family needs drove Nimi to alcoholism as a coping mechanism. “Sometimes, a day would pass without having made money from casual work. On lucky days, the most I made was Ksh.300,”says the single mother of 7. One of her children is physically challenged.
More often than not, she has turned to her siblings and old parents for assistance, “My parents live nearby and have really been supportive,” she says adding that having to depend on her parents at an advanced age is somewhat demeaning.
The Heifer Exchange Prorgamme was rolled out in 2012. Under this programme farmers are given heifers on a loan basis which is payable in three years once a farmer starts earning from the cow. Since its launch, the project has enabled low-income households access high yielding cows which were beyond their reach. These families have been able to generate income from milk sales.
For Nimi the story is not any different, she sells 10 litres of milk on average per day at Ksh. 37. “I am assured of an income every day and at least I do not have to rely on handouts for survival. I have something to call my own,” she says adding that it is through the project that she got encouraged to stop taking alcohol.
Nimi learnt about the Heifer Exchange Programme through her local parish. Caritas Nairobi works with Parishes to mobilise and identify beneficiaries. The essence of this project is to reach out to many farmers therefore project beneficiaries commit to passing on the first heifer calved to a new beneficiary in the project. To encourage this, once a farmer passes on the heifer, the loan is halved.
Nimi’s testimony represents other farmers who have received heifers and are making an extra shilling. Beneficiaries have also received training on live stock keeping and fodder management. Nimi who received a Self-Determination award during the 2017 Caritas Nairobi Annual Dinner, plans to better her dairy farming techniques to boost milk production.