For the past three years, Bertila Samweli was the chairperson of the Kazi na Sala women’s group. The members re-elected her last month so she will lead the group for another three years. In this interview she explains why this makes her proud.
How does it feel to be re-elected as Chairperson?
Bertila: Personally I feel very good being re-elected as the chairperson of Kazi na Sala. Maybe I made mistakes in the past or there were things I could have done better, but the fact that the women decided I should continue as their chairperson shows me that I also did good things the past years. Therefore I was very happy to see they have again given me their trust to continue and this made me very proud.
Before Kazi na Sala, how did the women live together?
Bertila: Before Kazi na Sala the women were staying at home. They did not join any kind of group. So with the group we have become like one and now we work together. There existed some groups in the village before but these groups were a mixture of people with men and women, like for example the Vikoba Savings groups. These groups were different because Kazi na Sala is a group only for women, which changes the atmosphere.
What changed with Kazi na Sala?
Bertila: We became a close group, we became as one. TATU Project helped to organize seminars about women empowerment for Kazi na Sala. This taught us about awareness and self-knowledge as a woman, because we did not know about these things before. With these seminars the women learned about themselves and they learned who they are. Now they know their responsibilities as a woman but also, and more importantly, they know their rights as a woman.
How do you see the group evolving?
Bertila: Kazi na Sala has achieved many things. At the beginning we were only saving money together in the group. The group evolved and now we have projects that we manage ourselves. For example we have the wholesale shop where we sell different things like food and building materials. We have the bicycle project where we sell spares and we rent out the bicycles. The group benefits from these projects and we hope that in the future we will have more projects which we will also manage ourselves.
Also, the women themselves benefit from Kazi na Sala. Some of them have started some personal projects like KiliPads and the Masaa Jewellery project which are fruits of Kazi na Sala. So you feel the women are benefiting a lot from being together in a group.
What are the ambitions that you want to see fulfilled in the coming years?
Bertila: I strongly hope that the achievements we have made will not stop here. We can create and think of other projects that will be also a source of income for Kazi na Sala. We want to have running water and electricity in the shop. The latter will allow us to offer cold beverages and to grow the business. Having light will also improve the security of the shop.
On the long term I would like to start more projects. We could construct a building which can be used as a social hall so that people can organise events. We could also buy furniture like chairs and tents that we can rent out. Aside from this we could have an office and other kind of projects.
For these ideas though it is necessary that everybody in the group speaks her mind. So each woman can be heard and can give her personal suggestions.
… Spoken like a true chairperson. Thank you very much Bertila Samweli!