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Pauline

Pauline Kipkosgei was forced to sell her cow, a costly penalty for a widow in her circumstance, but it was the only way to pay her fine and gain her freedom from jail. After running from the police for years, she had been arrested for brewing illegal alcohol, something Pauline had done since 1971.

Pauline married into a brewing family, and it was their only source of income. Like so many brewers, she and her husband drank their own alcohol and were constantly surrounded by drunk customers. The brewing environment was very chaotic, and it negatively affected their seven children. In 2007, Pauline’s husband died of ulcers caused by drinking and suddenly she was a widow. She determined to stop drinking herself, but she continued to brew in order to support her family.
In 2013, the chief in Pauline’s town held a meeting for brewers. The women were skeptical and scared, but the chief promised they would not be arrested; instead they would hear information that might help them escape the brewing lifestyle. At the meeting, she heard about the training from Empowering Lives International in Ilula. Pauline did not have enough money to get to the training, but to her delight, the governor offered to provide money for transport. She was elated because she longed to leave brewing and have a better life, so she attended the training with about 57 other women.

The first night of training, Pauline’s joy turned to fear as she had nightmares that the police were chasing her. She woke everyone up with her screaming, but she was determined to be brave, so she stayed the course and completed the training. Before the week was over, Pauline had started to have different kinds of dreams: she was able to visualize what her new life was going to look like. It all seems so long ago now, and she can even laugh as she recalls that first scary night.


When she did return home and begin to farm, Pauline grew wheat and maize and used what she learned about horticulture to plant vegetables and sell them to neighbors and local markets. She started small but eventually had money to buy a generator to help run an irrigation system.

As she gained more knowledge and success in business, she decided to sell some unusable land and invest the proceeds into a business. Pauline bought a truck that could carry far greater quantities of vegetables, and she began to venture to markets outside her local area. Then she learned the value of “resale” and began to buy potatoes and drive them to Mombasa where she could sell them for a profit. Soon she had to hire help to load and drive the truck! Instead of being a notorious brewer, Pauline has become a well-known businesswoman. She even has a second car she can use for local business affairs, something she never thought possible.

Pauline describes how happy her children are with the changes in their lives and to see their mom's continued growth. She says, “There is a big difference, and I am happy now!” Many of her neighbors have also noticed the change and are very pleased. One of her neighbors recalls how some former customers would laugh and talk about how Pauline would eventually come back to brewing. “But it has now been five years now, and the drinkers have left. This woman is NOT going back!” she proudly shared.

Pauline is a leader of the women in her church and counsels many. She also encourages current brewers to leave the brewing life because she is living proof that there is a better way. Pauline attributes her success to receiving knowledge and business skills that helped her make smart decisions. Her latest venture involves a new 1/8 of an acre of land that she purchased in the center of Iten, a town that draws runners from around the world. Pauline recognized that having rental houses in the area would be good business, so she plans to build some on this land soon.

Pauline is a strong and empowered woman who values knowledge and wisdom. Pauline still runs, but not from the police. She runs to keep her 62-year-old body healthy! 
While on a break during Leadership Training, women were resting or chatting, but Pauline was running laps, stretching, and encouraging others to join her. Pauline embodies the strength of Women of Change!





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