Sunday, 26 July 2015

Meet Doris

Doris is the cleaner and cook at school. She always greets me cheerfully, works hard and will do whatever is asked of her. Every morning she makes porridge for the children and then cleans the classrooms and toilets. Her English is limited but good enough for us to have basic conversations.

Doris serving porridge at school

The children enjoying the porridge Doris has cooked

Doris is one of the guardians supported by Arise. She has told me a little of her story and I thought I would share it so that you can understand more about some of the people who Arise support. Doris is a widow raising her four children alone after her husband died a few years ago. Her husband became ill quite suddenly, although his actual illness was never diagnosed. Sadly as time went by, he became less able to function and spent the last seven months of his life unable to speak.

Doris’s youngest two daughters attend Kaniki Primary School, in grades 5 and 7, and live with her in Kaniki Extension. There is no secondary school in this area so her older children, her son and oldest daughter, who are in grades 10 and 12, attend schools in town where they live during term time.

Doris' younger daughters when I visited during the rainy season

Doris and her daughters live in a small brick house with a corrugated tin roof. In the lounge there are a few old sofas crammed in with a table and a dresser. The windows are actually just holes in the wall. During one of our visits to Doris’s home, the rain was so heavy that conversation became impossible because it was so loud! Once the rain had died down, Doris explained that she was struggling with money and was finding it hard to provide food for her family, even though Arise pays her children’s school fees.

The kitchen area in the entrance of the house

Doris earns K200 (roughly £20) a month for her work at school, which is a reasonable wage here. When we talked to her, we found out that K150 (75% of her monthly earnings) was going towards her son’s accommodation near his school in town. Her older daughter is able to stay with relatives there. This meant that Doris and her younger daughters were living on the equivalent of £5 a month between them. Fortunately Arise rents out a couple of houses for boys in town and so we arranged for her son to move there, funded by Arise.

Following that visit to see Doris, I bought her a bag of meale meal, which makes nshima. I have never seen someone so grateful. She got down on her knees and said thank you, which was very humbling and brought tears to my eyes. This small gesture which meant so much to her cost me just K210, or £2.10.

It is great that Kapumpe Primary School has been able to employ one of our Arise guardians. It helps to give Doris some dignity, since having a job means she can directly provide for some of her family’s needs. Sometimes it is difficult to see how we can empower people to fully escape poverty, but Doris is an excellent example of a step in the right direction.

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