Teresia always had an interest in beaded items and was curious about how they were made, so when the opportunity arose to learn beading, she jumped at the chance.
“I learned the art of beadwork from my friend who was good at it,” Teresia said. “She offered to teach me the skill so that I could make money out of it. It took me three months to perfect my skills.”
Teresia learned how to make everything from bags and jewelry to home decorations, such as vases made from beads. Having a skill she could earn money with, especially one she enjoyed doing, was certainly a benefit.
Teresia raised four children on her own and is now raising her 19-year-old grandson, Stephen, and supporting her aging mother. Stephen’s mother lives in Mombasa, a town on the Kenyan coast almost nine hours away by car, and she doesn’t have a stable job, so she left Stephen in Teresia’s care.
But even with an income-generating skill, Teresia still experienced hardships as a single parent.
“Life was quite challenging before sponsorship, and we had many financial constraints,” Teresia said.
“Taking care of my children and my grandson was an uphill task. Rent and school supplies were my major challenge.”
In 2004, Stephen was sponsored by a woman in Maryland, and things started to change for the family. With help from Stephen’s sponsor, Teresia was able to ensure her grandson stayed in school, and being part of Unbound has given Teresia the chance to grow her business.
“Life has changed because I no longer have to worry about my grandson’s school fees and other education needs,” Teresia said. “I have also been able to [take out] loans, which have helped me a lot in boosting my business. Previously I depended on the small profits to restock, but with the loans I have been able to get more stock and grow.”
As Stephen’s guardian, Teresia is involved in a mothers group through Unbound. Participation in a parent group is one of the requirements of the Unbound program in Kenya. Many groups have collective savings programs through which members can take loans. The groups are also a place to share knowledge, encouragement and work through obstacles.
“My group’s name is Juja Kirathimo,” Teresia said. “We are a total of 26 members. What I like most about the group is that we are united and we always come to an agreement easily. The name Kirathimo is a Kikuyu word that means ‘blessings.'”
Teresia hopes to see her children and grandchildren become self-sufficient. She wishes the same thing for her fellow mothers and is willing to teach them how to bead so they can create their own businesses.
Her aspirations for her business, however, are not diminishing, as she plans to continue expanding and dreams of exporting her creations someday. But mostly, Teresia is glad she and her family are part of the Unbound program.
“I am happy for the opportunity offered by Unbound,” Teresia said. “I have seen many changes in my life since my grandson joined the program. We are not where we used to be before sponsorship.”
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