‘I grew up in a humble, happy family,’ says Susan. ‘We owned five acres of land, but I realise now that we didn’t know how to farm properly because we often went without food. We even cut down all our trees to make charcoal to provide an income for the family.’

Susan’s parents spent all day working on other people’s land for a pittance, and as the eldest child, Susan would be left in charge of her younger siblings.

When she reached secondary school and the fees became unaffordable, Susan was forced to drop out and start earning money for her siblings’ school fees.

‘I missed out on my teenage years because I was always working on other people’s land with my parents,’ she says. ‘Despite our best efforts we could never raise enough money for all my brothers and sisters to go to school.’

Susan felt trapped and hopeless. ‘I gave up on life and was just waiting for my parents to marry me off so that they could use the dowry to better their lives,’ she says.

Fortunately, before that happened, Susan was granted a golden opportunity to attend Kira Farm Development Centre.

The beauty of perspective

At Kira Farm young people from different backgrounds, tribes, and religions, learn to live together in harmony.

‘I thought my life had been terrible, but at Kira Farm I was shocked to discover it was nothing compared with the girls who had grown up in Internally Displaced Person camps,’ she says.

At Kira all students receive vocational training, mentoring and counselling. 'I will always be grateful for everything I learnt at Kira – it restored my hope in life,’ she smiles.

‘While I was there I could feel my future brightening up before me and I left the Farm equipped with practical skills, knowing I was worth more than a dowry to my family. My hand in marriage didn’t need to be their ticket out of poverty.’

Moving on in life

‘It was scary going home,’ admits Susan. ‘I was worried I wouldn’t make it, but I encouraged myself by remembering that I wasn’t alone on this journey – God was with me. And the more I trusted God, the more things improved.’

First, Susan trained all her family in the conservation farming techniques she had learnt at Kira, multiplying their crop yields so everyone had enough to eat and there was extra left over to sell.

Once Susan’s family were up and running with the new approach to farming, Susan moved to a nearby town to find a job in hairdressing – another skill she had learnt at Kira.

‘I worked in a salon earning around £30 a month,’ she says. ‘While the other women were gossiping, I focussed on helping people who shared their family problems - using the restorative justice approaches we’d been taught at Kira.’

Within three months Susan was inundated with customers who only wanted her services!

‘By that point I’d already saved £45, so I used the capital to open up my own hairdressing salon and since then I’ve never stopped smiling.’

Susan makes at least £75 a month - a huge sum considering she had to drop out of school because the family couldn’t afford books or pencils.

The enterprising young woman has taken on three apprentices, providing valuable opportunities for young people in an area where there are very few.

She is also supporting her family at home and has been able to pay for her brother to go back to school. Quite an achievement considering she only graduated from Kira Farm 9 months ago!

‘Thank you so much to Braunton Rotary Club who granted me the opportunity to change my life through sponsorship,’ says Susan.

‘Kira training grew me into a courageous woman and now I know that anything is possible!’

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