I knock the first house and a lady opens the house for me.A bit scared she asks me who I am, thankfully am dressed in a cultural way and that gives her peace I suppose that is what makes her to offer me a seat. There is Silence in the room, 360 decrees study of the house and within one minute I make a conclusion life here has been a struggle. I decide to start a conversation and break the silence that had dominated the house for a while. I asked her whether she stays alone in that house. Slowing but careful she says she doesn’t stay alone hoping to hear more, we go back to our silent mode. Its 9am EAT and a girl walks in carrying a 20 Liters Jerry can full of water. I greet her and ask her why she is not in school, she opens her mouth to talk but one look from her mother makes her mute and go away to wash some clothes outside,am not really an expert to approximate ages but my guess will be a 10 year old girl .
Her mother Picks a bag ”Kiondo”I am more than determined to be part of the day routine so I follow her. A few meters and am shocked by this women building a house, Just out of curiosity, I ask her where the Men are because since morning have not seen a single Man moving around. For once I see a smile on her face, and then slowly she says, “at the JOINT”. The smile gives me some confidence to ask her why children do not go to school, because children are everywhere. In one word she says, “No Money ”.So where are you going,” to my business ”but you said no money, ”all the money is taken on daily basis by the “Mzee” meaning the father of the children. A bit confused but concerned, I ask her then why the children are at home and schools are free and the MZEE has money to buy books and the rest of the items.”They take money to the Joint” she says.
A few meters away we find some women sited apparently waiting for a “Mwalimu”a term they use to refer to an officer from Micro finance to get some loans. A few minutes we get talking and I ask them if they have ever heard of Mobile banking and they say they have never. They have to travel several kilometers to access banking services after which they come and give all their money to their husbands.
We carry on with Mrs Fatima (not her real name).I request her to show me one of the Joints, a term that had heard severally and my mission to the village this day was to find out what the Joint is all about and why was it so famous. She agrees to show me but begs me not to get inside with her because that could cause her husband to bit her. A few minutes and this where I find myself:
I ask her how long they stay in the “JOINT”, she says “from morning to evening and come back home to demand food. A few meters from here Mrs Fatuma gets to her Business. She will go back home in the evening give out all her money and the circle repeats itself. Before I leave she mentions to me that she has a boy but the father has taken the boy to school for the girl her father says “she will marry her off at the age of 18” she tells me.
I go back but this time more than determined to advocates for the rights of girls and women.