Read our stories from
the field.

Halhalo Martiyo’s Story

Good Barmin is the home village of Halhalo, an exemplary role model. Her REAP business group was able to provide the funds to pay for medical care for her brother’s child, who was seriously ill. When Kura and I made our first presentations about REAP to women in the Korr region, Halhalo stood skeptically at the back of the crowd. She is a tall woman who is hard to miss with her strong, dark features, and I could not take my eyes off her. I knew that if we could win over Halhalo, then we would have an important ally.

 

 

“Halhalo and I have seen each other on numerous occasions since that time, and despite our many differences, we share a bond. It is apparent as we pull up to the village. I step out of the vehicle and am bowled over by Halhalo as she presses her cheek against mine. She looks thinner than last time I saw her, but her gaze is strong and fierce. She welcomes us to her hut and sets about making us all feel comfortable. She pulls out her husband’s shortwave radio and tunes it to Rendille radio, a weekly broadcast from Nairobi. As I sit with Halhalo, holding her hand, I was caught in a moment of hope that wishes for a world that will bring equality and opportunity for people like Halhalo.” (Kathleen Colson, BOMA Nomad blog)

Algoya Basele’s Story

Algoya Bassele is the mother of seven children and a member of the Matepes Busines Group in the village of Ndikir, one fo the most successful REAP groups in Northern Kenya. “As Kura and I sat in the hut with the women, we reviewed their record book,” says BOMA founder and CEO Kathleen Colson. “We were astonished to see, listed in the book, the names of 17 children who are attending secondary school. Primary school in Kenya is free, but secondary can cost anywhere from $100 to $500 per year. The women of Matepes are not only paying for six of their own children to go to secondary school, they are also paying or loaning the money for eleven other village children to attend school.” Algoya adds: “BOMA has opened our eyes. Now we know how to work, and we are so thankful.”

Mekona Galgallo Arbare’s Story

 

For the first time in her 54 years, Mekona enjoys her life. Mekona is one of 903 participants who exited BOMA’s REAP program in October 2015. For the past two years, Mekona and her business partners have run a small duka selling staple goods such as flour and sugar – goods she never used to be able to afford. “When I used to beg for credit, no one respected me,” says Mekona, “Now, I am respected.”

 

With three children to support, and no other source of income save a few goats, she used to struggle paying school fees and feeding her family. “Since BOMA, my livelihood has changed. Before I was in BOMA, I would go to bed hungry with my kids,” Mekona says, “sometimes for two to three days.” Now, she does not worry about where her next meal will come from and her children are no longer chased from school. Her youngest daughter, Gano, even dreams of becoming a teacher. “I will never leave my business; this has changed my life. I was very happy with BOMA. Before, I didn’t know what profit was, what income was, even what business was. I am now very comfortable.”

Alice Learoma’s Story

Alice lives in Gatab, a Samburu village in the cedar forests of Mount Kulal. She is the sole provider for five children, four of whom are in school. Her business group, the Baraka Women’s Group, has set up shop in a small building attached to her house. They sell metal cowbells and tire sandals, padlocks for houses and shops, and inexpensive mobile phones. Being involved in the BOMA business has encouraged her to attend adult literacy classes so she can record financial transactions. “Most of my life, I have had nothing,” she says. “Now I have a little for myself and my children. My children do not go to bed hungry, and I can pay the secondary school fees for my oldest child. For the first time in my life, I am OK.”

Malawan Lejalle’s Story

Malawan and her daughter Lterian in the nomadic village of Ndikir, near the family hut and chicken coop. Malawan leads a three-woman business group that sells food staples, such as beans, tea, and sugar, to local residents.

 

 

“My husband does not know if he will find us alive when he comes home,” says Malawan. “But the last time he returned, he found his eight children doing well… and his wife was plump!” Malawan has eight children and it was the savings from her REAP business that paid for the medical procedure she needed after the miscarriage of her ninth child. I love my encounters with Malawan because she does not give me simple platitudes of gratitude. She is passionate. I will never forget the first time I met her when she basically said to me, “Tell me that this program will work, because I have eight children that I have to keep alive and right now I am having a hard time seeing how this program will do this.” Malawan’s accomplishments, and those of her fellow business partners, is a joy shared by all of us at BOMA.” (Kathleen Colson, BOMA Nomad blog post)