One of the younger women we meet in Kijabe Town is Anne Wambui, who is 50 years old. As we approach her house, we see a line of laundry brightening a sky of gray drizzle. Anne is not a widow; her husband left her to go away and marry other wives. But she has six children – four boys and two girls – several of whom have left to search for work. One daughter, who was in Form 3 at school, quit her education and got married because of a lack of money for school fees. Anne has three grandchildren living with her. Daniel, the eldest, left school in Class 8 because she couldn’t pay his fees; John is in Class 3; and Grace is too young to be attending primary school. Anne sometimes grows potatoes, beans, and maize but is searching for better land to cultivate in order to better support her family.
When John and Joel string up the solar lights for her, Anne tells us that she is happy that she will now have light in her home in the evenings. No longer will she have to buy paraffin, and no longer will she and the children have to breathe in the smoke from candles. This visit has been an easier one, perhaps because Anne is younger and healthier than many of the other women, but likely because she is able to speak some English, enabling us to connect in a more direct way.