Sanergy, East Africa
I have lived in Mukuru for 25 years. Three of my eight kids were born and raised here. I used to run a business selling alcohol for 16 years. It was an illicit brew. You make good money, but it’s not helping you. For 16 years, I had to hustle. I would struggle with the cops. They would come and raid my home. My children would get arrested. The money I made was used to pay off the police. I would have to bribe them or pay them bail to get my kids out of jail. The kids would miss school. It was a really stressful life.
I was getting very tired of this way of life. My husband passed away 10 years ago, so I had to support my family by myself.
One day I prayed and asked God to give me a business that would ease all of this stress and give me peace of mind. I knew one day I would run a business.
At first, I thought I could operate a pit latrine because I had water near my house. Then a friend told me about Sanergy. She told me they run better toilets and collect the waste, so it’s easier to operate. My friend was quick to call Sanergy and they came and trained me.
I put all the money I had to install two Fresh Life toilets on my land. On the day I started operating my toilets, I called for a little prayer service. I wanted to dedicate the toilets and announce to everyone that I was no longer selling the brew. I wanted everyone to know I was done with that illegal business.
As a Fresh Life operator, I have a lot more peace of mind. I’m making a decent living. The life of selling alcohol was destructive. You never have peace. You’re constantly searching for ways to beat the system. There is never any time to think about how you can do any good.
Now I’m no longer running from the cops. There’s nobody chasing me. I have the time now to slow down and be more reflective. I have built a better house for my family. I have also been able to join a women’s savings group, which never has been possible for me since I have always been on my own.
I had never gone to school, so I didn’t know how to read or write. Now I have the opportunity to go to school. Every afternoon for two hours, I go to school. I have now learned to write my own name. I am slowly learning how to read. I am very passionate about my faith, so I am teaching myself to read the Bible by myself.
Being a Fresh Life operator has allowed me to do something more with my life. My children are very happy with me. They are glad I am doing something different. In this process, I have found God. I would never have found God when I was selling illegal brew, so I feel like this business have allowed to find even bigger meaning for my life. My children had been caught up in lots of trouble. Some of them were thieves, but now they are watching me be different and make better choices.
I feel like Fresh Life has been the answer to my prayers. Before Fresh Life, I felt like God wasn’t near.
I prayed to God to help me change my life and give me and my children an opportunity to live a different life. And then he gave me this business and it’s changed everything for me.
I am no longer the lady who sells alcohol. I am a messenger of God, a preacher. I have a better reputation. People respect me. I am progressing and I am able to provide a service that is uplifting my community and inspiring others in the process.
Agnes, 54, lives in Nairobi’s Mukuru development with her eight children. She has been a Fresh Life operator for Acumen investee, Sanergy.