Like most people in the region, Fatumo’s husband was a nomadic pastoralist who would take his animals out to graze.
One day his camels got mixed up with another herd, leading to an argument. He was stabbed and died.
“My husband was poor, and he died when I was six months pregnant, so you can imagine the hardship,” said Fatumo.
Fatumo was left with four young children to raise. She set up a tea stall, which brought in a small income and her brother would sometimes help.
Only two of the children have memories of their father, but they all feel sad when they are reminded that they are orphans.
After a couple of years Fatumo remarried and moved to Lafey. She had four more children with her new husband.
Her second husband had owned over 100 animals, but all except two died in the drought of 2006.
During the drought IR trucked in thousands of litres of water a day, and provided supplementary food for the malnourished.
IR also rehabilitated Lafey’s boreholes. “There was only one tap before and there were many people in the queue,” Fatumo explains, “Now there are three taps you can get water easily, so there are no more queues.”
With her husband impoverished by the drought, Fatumo had to help support her family. She sold the few animals she still owned and started up a clothes shop.
Lafey is not a big town, so business can be slow. The shop brings in up to 4,000 Kenyan Shillings a month (45 Euros). A kilo of maize costs 40 Kenyan shillings (5 Euros).
When Fatumo heard that IR would be offering Islamic micro credit loans she was very interested. These small business loans are designed to help people who are too poor to qualify for ordinary bank loans.
Fatumo plans to use her loan to expand her shop and to buy livestock to sell in Nairobi for a profit.
“Micro credit is a good thing because it will help people like me lift myself out of poverty, so I can at least take care of my basic needs,” said Fatumo.
Three of Fatumo’s children are in school. However, one of her daughters has to look after the goats instead of going to school.
“What can I do?” she says. “I can’t afford to hire a maid. I can’t look after the animals as I am working. And I need their milk so I can’t give them to others to look after.
“If my business was doing well, all of my children could go to school. You can get someone to look after the goats for about 500 Ksh a month, but I can’t afford that right now,” said Fatumo
“Nomadic life is not good. I do not want my children to be nomads. There is a lot of hardship. I want them to have a happy life in town and get good jobs.”