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Purity: A Mother to Her Community

I think it is a misperception that orphans and vulnerable children don’t have ambition. We do have ambition, and the support helps us to achieve our vision.

‒ Purity, 2016 Graduate in Kenya

As the oldest of five siblings, Purity took on the bulk of the responsibility when her parents passed away. Her family’s lack of steady income led them to frequently beg in the streets for food, a wrongful act by the community’s standards, so Purity and her siblings were often met with hurtful words. Eventually, they were not welcome to attend community events and other gatherings; instead, they were told they could eat from the garbage cans afterward.

Desperate to find a stable job, Purity took on the role of housemaid for a local family, where she became responsible for all domestic chores. In her five years employed with the family, she was often misused and mistreated, but she couldn’t speak up, in fear she would lose her job, and her family needed her income to survive.

This vicious cycle of abuse made Purity feel ashamed of her life. She dreamed of running away to another life somewhere far away, but she didn’t know where she would go. By the time she left her housemaid job to join the Zoe program in 2013, she had worked her way up to earning $20 a month.

Zoe’s program was her first real opportunity to envision a life outside of being a housemaid. At first, it felt wrong to Purity to create a dream chart, as if she wasn’t worthy or allowed to do something that brought her joy and happiness. In her dream chart she noted her ambition to become a tailor, own her own sewing machine and sell from a tailoring shop she managed.

Purity began her training by assisting in another local tailoring shop. After she completed her training, which typically lasts around six months depending on the trade the child chooses, she was given a sewing machine by her Zoe group to begin working on her own.

To show their support, her Zoe group-mates were her first customers. They, too, were beginning to receive a steady source of income through their businesses and had saved enough to re-enroll their siblings in school, so they turned to Purity to make the uniforms. Others in the community began to take notice of her work, and her business grew. She got faster at her trade and sold more each day.

By the time Purity was ready to graduate the program in 2016, her business had evolved from only sewing school uniforms to making beautiful dresses, skirts and blouses. Her growing profits, which averaged $50 per day as of late 2018, allowed her to hire two local women while still saving for the future.

 

Purity’s transformative experience with Zoe fuels her passion to empower others. Although she’s not yet a mother, she has mentored many young girls in her shop, and actively looks for ways to give back to her community. When her neighbor’s house burned down, she took in the children, cared for and fed them, paid their school fees and bought their school uniforms.

“Today, when I see a child in my community who is struggling, I feel bad. I want them to be where I am, so I usually will help them however I can or try to connect them to another Zoe empowerment group,” explained Purity.

Beyond her business, Purity is proud to have funded the education of all four of her siblings. Her eldest sibling completed secondary school and was recently employed as a plant operator; the middle sibling will finish 12th grade this year; and her two youngest siblings are attending primary school.

Before Zoe, she recalls not having many friends because she could not afford to dress well, and people were afraid she and her family would beg from them. Now, in the community, she has become highly regarded as a business owner and participates in many events and gatherings. Purity has also become involved at her church, where she donates 10 percent of her income every week.

“I wasn’t a strong Christian before Zoe, but the program helped me get connect to my faith,” said Purity. “I have forgiven the family who abused me when I was a housemaid. I choose to see the positivity they brought to my life, like allowing me to go to church and feeding me.”

When she thinks back to her experience with Zoe, she’s most grateful for the training. She is thankful for being able to create a vision and for being given the tools to achieve it. “I think it is a misperception that orphans and vulnerable don’t have ambition. We do have ambition, and the support helps us to achieve our vision,” stated Purity.  

Speaking of vision, in the near future, Purity is interested in opening a bigger boutique to sell ready-to-wear clothes and shoes as well as continue tailoring. Until then, she’ll continue to save her earnings and look for opportunities to assist others in need within her community.

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Boy in Puritys community

 

Purity working

Zoe Empowers

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