Noami

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I dropped out of school fifteen years ago, when I had a baby. I had to find a way to support myself and my child. I turned to the sardine (omena) business because it was a thriving commercial activity in my lakeside community.

I would buy fresh omena from fishermen early in the morning when they reach the shore, sun-dry it and then sell to other traders in late afternoon. I operated from Kolunga beach on Rusinga Island. The trade became very competitive and there were not enough fish for people to trade even with ready cash in hand. The fishermen developed a practice of demanding sex for access to fish.

It became known as ‘Jaboya’. The fishermen liked variety and as a young woman, I had to participate to ensure I remained in business. Aids had become a reality and I saw other women around me deteriorate in health and die. For two years I participated in this system.

Finally, I had to break from the shackles of Jaboya when the fishermen started demanding unprotected sex as a sign of loyalty in order maintain my access to omena.

In 2006, my aunty took a loan for me from Kageno. I turned to making uji a local (porridge) I established a good number of repeat customers and my business became stable. I felt my self-esteem grow. Without Kageno’s help I would not have been able to break the chain of Jaboya.