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A DREAMS Graduate Story

Kapiyo village in West Sakwa Ward, Bondo Sub County is teeming with activity. Traders in small scale
businesses are a lively lot as they race against time to clear their day’s stock, oblivious of the clouds of
dust gathered by speeding motorbikes and occasional cars driving through the dusty road dividing the
market into two halves. The rush is so that the mostly young women could attend to a Determined,
Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored and Safe (DREAMS) graduation meeting about to take place
at the nearby safe space.
I catch up with 27 year old mother of four, Roselyne Akinyi. She joined the DREAMS program in 2016 as
a stay at home wife to his fisherman husband, and her life has never been the same again.
“I got a business startup kit worth Ks. 10,000 in 2017. I used the money to buy a sheep and start my
business of cooking and selling samosas here at our Sinyanya local market.” She said. Today, Roselyne’s
business has grown and she sells groceries as well and the sheep has multiplied into a big flock.
The DREAMS program was introduced in West Sakwa ward in 2016 by IRDO to reach out to vulnerable
Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYWs) who were then very prone to all manner of abuse and
violence. “Overtime, we have enrolled thousands of AGYWs benefitting from different components of
the program including business startup kits, cash transfers, school fee payments, dignitary kits and HTS
services” Said Silvia Rachieng, DREAMS Technical Advisor.
In the cohort that was graduating on this day, was Clarice Owuor, a 24 year old mother of two children
and a First Year student at the Bondo Teachers Training College (TTC). She said, “Since I got enrolled in
2017, I have benefitted so much from the DREAMS program. Very soon, my dream of becoming a
teacher will be realized! This COVID-19 should end so that I go back to school” She said.
Amidst the excitement radiating from the faces of the graduates, there are one or two who are not
smiling yet. Eunice* is 25 years old and a mother of two. She got enrolled into the program in 2016 and
last year lady luck smiled upon her and she got admitted into the Bondo TTC to pursue her lifelong
dream of being a teacher.
Unlike Roselyne, her husband and the father of her children could hear none of it. “He asked me to
choose between being his wife and acquiring education. When I chose TTC, he kicked me out of his life
and even went ahead to marry another woman” She narrated as she fought off tears from her eyes.
With a startup kit of Ks. 10,000 received twice, she has invested in a house-hold items business. Through
this, she is able to feed her children and is patiently waiting for schools to resume so that she and the
others go back to class.
The three ladies are just examples of what the DREAMS program has done in this area. By September
2020, about 40,000 will have been graduated and exited from the program to pave way for the younger
and more vulnerable ones.
According to Rachieng, the program has overtime reached thousands of AGYWs across the region,
changing lives from gloom to prosperity. The girls have also received training on entrepreneurship and
equipped with business skills.
“It is an all rounded agenda with business skills, life skills, HIV Testing Services and even small tokens in
cash for upkeep” She said.