Today the 17th of October the world celebrates the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, a day that seeks to recognize the victims of poverty and all its related forms. One name that comes to mind on this day is the late Activist Joseph Wresinski who recognized that governments tended to ignore the plight of those living in poverty and hence, the day of his demise was set aside for the sole purpose of drawing the attention of the world to strategize ways to alleviate the looming threat of poverty.

This is in line with the UN-agreed upon Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with goal number one seeking to alleviate poverty and all its forms everywhere. As a result, one of the primary goals of this day is to recognize the struggles of the impoverished and to make their voices heard by not only the government but largely by corporates and ordinary citizens that research has revealed to have more influence. The participation of people living in extreme poverty is also an important aspect of the observance of this day.

Research has revealed an existing link between living in extreme poverty and violation of human rights. Overtime people living impoverished lives often derail into criminal activities such as theft and murder in a desperate effort to survive and to eke out a living. It is for this reason that we have made it our mandate as Optiven Foundation to reduce poverty in numerous ways and restore dignity of the poor including senior citizens who have often been neglected by the society.

With poverty alleviation as one of our four core pillars, Optiven Foundation has played a pivotal role in several projects which include but not limited to, feeding the hungry, built and renovated a home for the Anti-Aids orphans, restored dignity to the aged, donated wheelchairs to the less fortunate, sponsoring students in high schools, offering job opportunities and mentorship to youth, setting small businesses for the differently abled, among many other philanthropy projects.

One of the key foundation projects this year is the #MobilityThatBringsSmiles campaign solely seeking to restore mobility to the differently abled in the society. Mr George Wachiuri the Chairman of the Foundation says, “It is our commitment to ensure that we not only restore their mobility but also provide business platforms and the facilitation to help them make a living.” This initiative has taken effect in Kajiado, Kiambu, Kisii, Nyamira and Machakos counties to impact beneficiaries at the grassroots level.

Education being a driving force of development calls for the championing for this factor in order to spur impact and transformation in society. We have and continue to sponsor needy students to high schools and at the same time provide empowerment programs to equip students with the required knowledge and skills to make it in life. Through Optiven Foundation, youth have been offered employment and mentorship programs to equip them with hands-on skills to make it in the job market.

This is against a backdrop of the popular belief that there are no jobs, even as 75 per cent of the beneficiaries got jobs immediately after the program. Women Empowerment has been a focal point of Optiven Foundation’s quest in poverty alleviation. Women greatly contribute and influence social dynamics of society and we believe that they have potential to bring change and development in a sustainable way.

It is for this reason that Optiven Foundation believes in our women through providing platforms to empower and nurture them for the restoration and advancement of our society. Further, we have provided numerous platforms and mechanisms enforcing gender equality by tackling social, political and economic practices that have previously perpetuated discrimination and disadvantaged opportunities.