The Korr region is rich with opportunities to photograph the lives of the Rendille people. In our travels from village to village, we come upon scenes of daily life – a woman skinning a goat that has just died, women carrying water and firewood, donkeys loaded with goods as they make the return trip from Korr that will restock the BOMA businesses in the nomadic villages.
When we conducted our Impact Assessment in August, there was one nomadic village group that was very successful, with profits that exceeded comparable villages. I was interested in visiting with the women and we were fortunate to find all five women in their shop – a small kiosk of branches with a goat skin floor. Kura and I squeezed into the hut with the women and, perched on small stools, began to review the status of their business and the entries in their record book. The group was distributing profits from the business to each member and they have been able to pay the medical expenses for an eight month old child in the village who had become very ill. They also contributed 2500 shillings to the medical expenses of an elderly woman with no children. The community subsequently agreed to match their contribution. Their financial record book is maintained by a local school child and they also have a separate book where they record any credit that is given to village members in need of food.
Kura asked them, “is this all the profits that the group has made?” The women were grinning. We knew something was up.
Finally, they came clean. “You see, Mama Rungu, the men in our village walk the 7 kilometers to Korr town and they buy the very strong alcohol in the small bottles. They get very drunk and get in to trouble. And then they do not come home at night. So we started selling Tusker beer in our shop. Now, the men buy beer from us. We make money and they drink something that does not hurt them so much. And now they stay home in the village.”
On their own terms, these women have changed the dynamics in their small village. They are proud of their achievements and the power they have to change their lives for the better. As we leave the village one of the women pressed my hand to her heart and said, “Mama Rungu, before we would always have to wait for our husbands. Now, our husbands wait for us.”