Written by CorpsAfrica/Kenya Volunteer Ms. Dawn Chemoiwa
I was dropped off at my site. They dropped me in the middle of nowhere, nowhere to me but home to someone. And in a few weeks, this place has become my home. I was curious yet scared and wondered how l would fit in and how to live in a new land.
On the day I was dropped off, my host mother picked me up on a motorbike, as we call it back home, a ‘piki piki’, here they call it a ‘motor’. I find it fascinating how the language is different too. We were all well surprised by my host mother’s entrance on a motor. Where I come from, women rarely ride motorcycles. This made me excited for the experience and the feminist in me was proud.
She drove me to a ‘Chadhe’ in the first 1hr of my arrival. A Chadhe is a party in Kamba. It can be a wedding, a dowry-paying day, or anything that brings people together. In this Chadhe, I watched my host mum changing from a biker to a pastor in less than 5 minutes. She was the preacher of the day at the Chadhe and she transformed her dressing, her head scarf came off and her neat hair shone in a snap. She preached a beautiful summon in the Chadhe. We later rode for 30+ minutes to arrive at her beautiful home. And it is here that I saw her metamorphosis into a mother. A mother of one beautiful young lady, a pair of twins and now me. It is here also that she became a wife and a manager of a household. On my first day, I got to experience all these faces. A face of a rider, a mother, a pastor, a manager, a wife, and a fellow human.
These different sides of her were amazing to me. It made me ponder on the role women play in communities and households. They wear multiple hats, hats of many colors. Over the last few weeks, I have seen women as farmers, carpenters, craftsmen, business people, leaders, bankers, fighters, weavers and nurturers. I have visited multiple self-help groups and it is women who keep money accounts, it is women who mostly attend the meetings, it is women who seek to learn and it is them who are more present. This reminded me that I could become what I want to be when I want to be. It showed me how powerful women were and how much responsibility we have.
I am in a community where 90% of the village elders are women and where the Chief and the Assistant Chief are women. An interesting man in my community once told me, ‘If you want development, please work with our women. They are the bearers of our community.’ Women are a key part of our community and they will forever be.