There was a time when Scholastica used to beg her neighbors for a few meager grains of salt to add some flavor to her meals, something she stopped doing out of embarrassment. Looking at her now, with a beaming smile that can be seen from all the way down the road, one can feel the sheer confidence and empowerment radiating off of her.

“Now people ask me for salt.”

It is a simple statement, but it is illustrative of the hard work Scholastica has put into her business to support her family.

 
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Family first

 

Although Scholastica has struggled in the past, her top priority is her ten children, many of which she adopted to help her family members who couldn’t take care of them. She says they are her greatest joy.and Her nurturing and kind spirit can easily be seen in the smiling and bright faces of the children, whose ages range from elementary to university.

 
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With a successful grocery business and a quickly growing stock of small livestock, Scholastica has been able to put away savings in her VSLA and has even joined this group in conducting some community service projects around town. She also proudly notes with a sly smile, “I used to ask my brothers and sisters for money, now they ask me!”

As her grocery business continues to expand to more local markets, Scholastica has also noted an increase in respect she and her family have received from their neighbors and the overall community -- one of the final criteria that signifies successful Graduation.

 

A special relationship

 

A unique aspect of the Graduation programme, implemented by CARE International in Kitui with technical assistance provided by BRAC, is the mentors who are paired with each participant, working with them for the full two years in order to provide support and training on various topics such as financial planning, business and life skills, social, health and family planning best practices.

Susan Mukei is one of the field officers in Scholastica’s region, and the two have formed a special relationship built on trust and understand, immediately apparent when the two interact or speak. “This project has made Scholastica strong and empowered. This can be testified by the fact that Scholastica now can interact with fellow women in the community freely, with great self- esteem and she is proudly sharing her past story of the depressing poverty she lived in.”

 
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“What makes me proud about my job is seeing the lives of the ultra-poor in the community improving and becoming respected and better people in the community. This is because empowering a community member and witnessing them improve into a better situation in life is a mandate and sole goal of my job and that’s why I love it!”

The Programme for Rural Outreach of Financial Innovations and Technologies (PROFIT) Financial Graduation programme is funded by IFAD and the Kenyan Government.

 
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