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She was a brewer, a fighter, and a bouncer in her own brewing den. Julia Siloi, like many other women, began brewing when she got married. Her husband, Moses, had a drinking problem, and as a result he didn’t provide for the family. Realizing that she would have to take care of both herself and her husband, Julia began brewing illegal alcohol because it seemed like a quick and easy answer to her problems. Jump to video of Julia

Julia was not only selling the toxic brew to those in her community but also began drinking it herself. As a result, the couple’s son was soon being neglected by his alcoholic parents and harassed by his mother’s customers. He would often go to sleep hungry since his mom was too busy brewing to care for him properly, and soon the neglect and fear that he felt caused him to struggle in school. Their poor son would beg his parents to stop brewing and drinking, but they didn’t. Eventually, the drinking got so bad that Moses would beat Julia, and her kind neighbor, Agnes, would have to take her in so she could hide until morning.
Julia had over 100 customers who would drink all day, which often led to fights breaking out. Julia now recalls a particularly horrible day when a few of her patrons got into an altercation; it snowballed into a huge fight involving both her and Moses. When the dust settled, Julia had been beaten, doors were broken, and her home was damaged. Once again, she sought refuge at Agnes’s home for the night.

Agnes knew that Empowering Lives International had a training center for women who wanted to escape brewing, and she knew that Julia needed to go to end the vicious cycle of brewing, drinking, and fighting. Julia agreed to attend an informational meeting to hear about the program. By the time it was over, she had decided that this was her answer, and she agreed to attend the training at the Ukweli Training Center.

Julia was excited but surprised to find out that ELI didn't give money to the women to start a business as she had assumed they would. Nevertheless, she soon found herself at the training center with 64 other women who were desperate to quit brewing and begin new lives. She was not given any money, but she was given the knowledge and skills to make money using what she already had. She learned how to raise a kitchen garden, keep kukus (chickens), care for a dairy cow, and make soaps and cakes. Upon returning home from the training, Julia kept her commitment to never brew again; instead, she became the manager of her home, her farm, and her cow. Now she sells milk and has extended her garden. She also has two acres of maize and a half acre of beans and potatoes to sell! 

When Moses saw the change in her, he was inspired to quit drinking as well. Although he continues to battle his addiction, Julia is grateful that he is on the journey to recovery, and she prays for him every day. They also decided to go to church as a family, which has brought about incredible changes in their lives. Their son is performing much better in school, and he is a happier, healthier boy. Now that she is no longer brewing, Julia is a wonderful wife and mother. Her son no longer goes to sleep hungry, and there is love and peace in their home.
She admits that she wishes she would have left brewing sooner, and she urges women who are still brewing to get out now. She is so thankful that she had a friend who cared for her as much as Agnes did, and she has now become an “Agnes” for others. She knows she cannot fix the problem for another woman, but she points them to the same solution that she found. Julia’s faithful kindness opens the door for them to experience life-changing transformation as well.


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