$20/month, 1 condition: Keep your girls in school (Part 2)

Posted on Posted in Let Girls Learn, Tana River

This is Part 2 of a 2 part series about our cash transfer program. Read Part 1.

After years of working for girls’ education in the northeastern and coastal regions of Kenya, we noticed one thing that seemed to keep more girls out of school than anything else: money. Sometimes it was not being able to pay school levies, and other times it was depending on daughters to generate income, but it was almost always something that could be solved by families having consistent and sustainable income sources. And of course, families themselves have the best ideas about what kinds of businesses work in their areas and for themselves.

We are now three months into an eight month program that provides business training and $20 a month to 939 families in the communities where we work. To receive the money every month, all the children in the family must be attending school, which we monitor with the help of head teachers and community health volunteers. In addition to educating their children, families are investing money in new businesses that will keep them financially stable—and keep their children in school—long after the project ends.

Shaban

Shaban’s daughter Martumo is in class 5 and loves math. Their family used the cash transfer money to buy two goats, which they will breed and then use for milk. The income that they will get from selling the milk will allow the family to save “for a rainy day,” says Shaban. This kind of financial security greatly increases the probably that Martumo and her sisters will stay in school even if the family begins facing new challenges.

Shaban also bought three chickens, one of which already has six chicks! The eggs the family will eventually be able to get from the chickens will supplement both their diets and their income.

Shaban is thrilled that the additional income will make it even easier to make sure her daughters are in school. She knows that their education is an investment that will pay off for the daughters and for the whole family. “A girl will always grow up to take care of her parents. Even once she is married, she can’t forget about them.”

Mohamed

When your daily income is just enough to get you to the next day, unexpected challenges like illnesses can have enormous consequences. In the past, Mohamed’s daughter Hazijah had missed a lot of school from being sick. Because her family did not usually have the money to get treatment immediately, she would stay sick for a long time before getting better.

But this year was different.

A few weeks after her family received the cash transfer money, Hazijah came down with smallpox. What would have normally been a long—and dangerous—recovery process turned into a quick trip to the clinic, where she immediately got the medicine she needed. Within a week, she was back in school.

In addition to keeping more cash on hand for emergencies, Mohamed is using the cash transfer money to make long-term, sustainable investments for his family. He has bought seeds, fertilizer, and petrol for the water pump, so that he can plant and sell vegetables at the market. He’s even using a local savings program called M-Shwari to save money and earn interest on it.

Mohamed is excited about how the cash transfer money will help him create a better future for everyone in the family. “I’m so happy that my children don’t have to miss school or tests anymore. They get the medicine they need to stay healthy, and I’m able to improve personally and professionally.”