My name is Benadetta Kavoo. I am a woman leader and member of Disaster Management Committee in Marafa.
Life in this community was hard for women because when our rights were violated, we did not know what to do or where to go get justice.
There were various rights violations like forced early marriages, girls being denied access education and teenage pregnancies. A woman had no rights at all & was denied leadership roles in the community. Women and girls were completely sidelined.
When we started working with ActionAid a few years ago, women began to unite and started to look at how to stop these injustices and gender inequalities in our community.
I remember the so many years that lived in poverty and injustice. We did not know much. We did not know that there are people who are responsible in supporting us. But after learning with ActionAid on various ways of getting services from government and other organizations, life is changing.
Let's say when we are affected by a disaster, we know how to do assessments and ask for help from the government. We have learnt to be pushy and tough – we follow up & push those responsible to do deliver services that they had promised.
An example of this is irrigation pumps that the government promised us but they kept on shifting dates of delivery. They kept on saying the machines will be brought but nothing happened. But we kept on kept pushing, pressured them until they delivered. Now farmers are using the equipment in their farms.
In the past we also had serious water shortage. Women were walking 5kms to fetch water and this affected school children since mothers always away looking for water thus not able to be with them to prepare them for school. We again went to the pressured government on this & they actually piped clean water our community
In the recent past we had a serious drought & hunger. Some hungry children from our community ate expired cassava and became sick & had to be hospitalized. It was sad.
I called a women meeting and asked them how long are we going to tolerate this suffering. We decided to go to the Governor's office in Kilifi to demand that the government feed the hungry among us. We used our own resources to travel to the governor’s office.
On arrival, the Governor did not want to see us but tasked his deputy to delivery the bad news that he is away from the office. We told the Deputy Governor that we would wait, even if that means sleeping at the office for three days until the government addresses our concerns. We refused to leave.
The Governor came out & we presented our demands. After three days, a lot of food was brought to the community. There was enough food for all in the village.
I felt encouraged and motivated, that as a woman, I am capable and have a right to fight for the rights of my community.