In Karungu, Kenya, we visited many projects The Father’s Table has supported through CRS. We visited with the Mercy Orphans, who seek to keep orphaned or vulnerable children (OVC) within the family unit, and provide support and education to help these families. They also help strengthen the community with education and resource-building programs such as SILC.
We visited two Savings and Internal Lending Communities (SILC). These groups are given a metal box, three padlocks, a ledger book and a guide to help them in the beginning. SILC programs provide financial services that keep money in the community. Members use their own savings to build up a self managed savings, credit, and social funds. These groups belong to their members, so decisions about group size, loan terms, and interest rates are made by the members and empower them in their development. Since the money remains in the group, all of the benefits accrued are in the end returned to the group members. Members borrow from their own money, therefore the pressure to comply with repayment is high and the hazard of members not repaying is drastically reduced. Loans are at an appropriate small level tailored to each person’s capacity and experience, limiting the risk of over-borrowing.
The Upendo SILC group has 27 members, and has been active since 2005, when it started with 10 people. 8 of the members are OVC caregivers. They are proud owners of farm animals, oxen, and ploughs.
The Oodi Omena SILC group was started in March of 2012, and has 22 members, 8 of whom are OVC caregivers. The sale of omena (little fish) is the primary business of the members of this group.