women

Getting Creative

María Francisca’s sales of her handmade soaps and hair gels may have started out modestly, but some small-business training has helped her take them to the next level. She initially sold what she made to neighbor women. Word-of-mouth advertising reached a beauty salon in a nearby town which now stocks her products. As a single mother of five, she’s grateful for the additional income.

Since many men in these indigenous Maya Mam communities have migrated for work, local partner CIEDEG staff prioritizes women, food security, and income opportunities as they develop programs. Kitchen gardens are popping up everywhere thanks to training on growing vegetables. If there’s any extra to sell, the women use what they earn to buy school supplies or to cover household expenses.

Women’s groups, or Sociedades Femininas, often meet in churches to share their experiences, organize, or receive training. A workshop on nutrition and creative cooking led to experimentation: radish leaves in omelets, anyone?

Besides María Francisca, other entrepreneurs have felt encouraged to act on their great ideas. Lucía and her sister started a small grocery store in the front room of their home. And three sisters – Juana, Catarina and Santa – have capitalized on their cooking skills to open a small restaurant. In addition to coffee, smoothies, and standard-fare meals, Juana makes chocolate-dipped bananas and, her own inspiration, chocolate-dipped orange slices.

Photo caption: María Francisca shows her wares
Credit: Bethany Beachum, CWS

Guatemala Nebaj-Quetzaltenango Program
Led by Church World Service and local partner CIEDEG
20 Communities, 771 households, 3,855 individuals

02/08/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Beekeeping Proves to be One Honey of an Opportunity

My name is Sara.  I live with my husband, José, and our two daughters, 8 and 5. We recently learned beekeeping through the program, and we love it! Once you’re set up, the bees do all the work to make the honey. We harvest every 15-20 days in the summer, anywhere from two to 60 one-quart bottles, depending on how many coffee trees are flowering around our hives. Our honey is high quality, and we can sell it for a good price – $6.00 a quart. The money allows us to buy food and medicines, and we’ve noticed that eating honey keeps us healthier, too.

José breaks rocks in the quarry for construction, and we both work as laborers during the coffee harvest. So, when [local partner] PAG offered training in beekeeping or raising pigs, chickens or tilapia, we started dreaming about earning more by selling honey.

Initially, we spent time with a beekeeping family in another community, learning about bee management and honey production. After that orientation, PAG gave us technical training, two beehives, and bee-handling equipment. Once we had a little practice, we began to find and capture natural bee swarms in the mountains, and expanded our honeybee operations to ten double-box hives in less than a year. We are preparing two extra hives to give to the next family as part of the “pass it on” program run by PAG.

Our goal is to have 30 double-box hives to provide us with a good additional income for our family. We’re thankful to God and the program for this opportunity.

Photo caption: José shows the family’s double-box hives

Honduras Comayagua Program
Led by Church of the Brethren and Local Partner Proyecto Aldea Global (PAG)
22 communities, 180 households, 1,960 individuals

02/06/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Efforts by all result in water for all

My name is Marvin, and I’m the coordinator of our community water committee here in Nicaragua. After years of effort, we’re just about ready to inaugurate a system of piping purified spring water directly into all our homes.  You’ll understand what a big deal this is when you learn that our wives used to have to fetch water many times a day from a well almost half a mile away.  We never helped because men just didn’t do that in our community.

I used to prefer to keep to myself, so I was very unsure about accepting the responsibility when I was elected coordinator. I wanted to do something about our lack of access to clean water, though, so I decided to rise to the challenge.

We first presented our water problem years ago to our municipal authorities, and then to some international organizations, but we never got a response. When FRB started a new program with World Renew and Acción Médica Cristiana (AMC) that included water, we requested their support.

With lots of coordination with the technical staff of AMC and the municipality, we started the process of preparing a project proposal, taking field measurements, preparing a budget and submitting our proposal. We’ve all donated labor and funds, too. What a great achievement it’s been for us – a lesson in persistence and patience – to have clean water coming from a tap! Our children will be healthier, and our wives are done for good with the drudgery of hauling water.

We’re better organized as a community. Everyone’s more willing to volunteer and give of their time without expecting payment: no one’s saying “not my problem” anymore.  And we share more work with our wives now.

Caption: Marvin pauses as visitors inspect the work on the water system
 
Nicaragua Farmer Program
Led by World Renew and local partner Acción Médica Cristiana
7 communities, 361 households, 1,625

01/12/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Tree Nurseries Provide Multiple Benefits to Farmers

Environmental conservation is an important focus of FRB’s Kenya Tigania program.  With training on better stewardship of water, soil, and forest resources coupled with conservation agriculture practices like mulching and crop diversification, farmers lessen the risk of crop failure due to drought in this dry region.

Two farmer groups recently completed training in planting and managing tree nurseries in their communities.  When their trees are large enough to transplant to members’ farms, they will strengthen the soil structure and provide material for mulching. Mulching and shade will conserve precious moisture during the growing season. Fruit trees will add to the diversity of the local diet, fodder trees will supplement the feed given to area livestock, mainly goats and dairy cattle. Other tree varieties will provide a renewable source of fuel and lumber.

After training, the groups received watering cans, machetes, hoes and seeds of a wide variety of trees. Six men and 35 women prepared the nursery beds, and are currently raising 10,000 seedlings for distribution to their members.

Photo caption: Women prepare soil for their tree nursery

Kenya Tigania Program
Led by World Renew and Local Partner ADS-Mt. Kenya East
7 communities, 200 households, 1,000 individuals

01/11/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Marshila's Transformative Nutrition Education

Marshila says her life has been transformed by the India Banka Dumka Jamui program’s emphasis on agriculture, nutrition and sanitation.  As a child bride, she had little knowledge about the world or ways to improve her family’s health. To her, food was for filling the belly to have the energy to work. The family generally ate only rice and potatoes and, even though lemons, guava and custard apple grew in their yard, Marshila did not know enough about them to add them to meals.

She always wondered how she could save her children from disease and malnutrition, so when the program offered agriculture and nutrition training in her village she jumped at the chance.

The first training she received through her Self-Help Group (SHG) helped her to understand the importance of nutrient-rich foods and a diversified diet for good health.  She learned about “Tri-color Meals” – white for carbohydrates, green for vegetables, and yellow for protein-rich legumes. She now grows vegetables in her kitchen garden and has learned delicious ways to serve them. She has taken to heart the lessons on the importance of a clean home environment, and her children think it’s fun to wash their hands before meals.

Marshila’s SHG also gives workshops on dramatically increasing rice yields, and basic animal husbandry and veterinary skills for caring for goats. Women in her remote village, formerly isolated and hopeless, now feel they are part of the larger world. Their SHG and Village Organization belong to a wider federation whose members share knowledge and envision transformation.

Photo caption: Kitchen gardening improves family health
Photo courtesy of LWR

India Banka Dumka Jamui Program
Led by Lutheran World Relief and local partner PRADAN
12 communities, 640 households, 2,163 individuals

 

12/20/2017 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Panna’s Kitchen Garden and “Super Flour” Save Her Son’s Life

My name is Panna. My husband and I live with our two daughters, ten and five, and our three-year-old son in a small home at the side of the road.  Only a year ago, we were just surviving, and my children were having health problems. I didn’t know how dangerously sick my son was, though, until one day, the staff of [local partner] BICWS Nepal was monitoring door to door. When they saw my child they said, “This baby is very weak,” and advised me to take him to the health post. The doctor there said he was malnourished and should be admitted to the hospital.

It was a scary time, but my little boy is well now, thanks to a six-month treatment. I was invited to join a mothers’ group, and we learned how to make “super flour” by roasting and grinding together two types of legumes and one type of whole grain to make a complete protein. I feed my children a porridge made of this lito pitho, fruit and vegetables. It’s made a huge difference in their health!

We also received training on planting kitchen gardens right by our houses. I’m growing okra, leafy vegetables, and pumpkins, and my fruit trees – lychee, jackfruit, banana, mango – are coming along. It’s a relief and pleasure to be able to give my children food that I grow myself.  We continue to learn about nutrition, preparing wholesome meals, and sanitation to make sure our children stay healthy.

I am thankful to the program for saving my little boy’s life and for all the help I’ve received in making a better home for my family.

Caption: Panna and her healthy son

Nepal Bhatigachh Program
Led by Mennonite Central Committee and Local Partner BICWS Nepal
9 communities, 2,603 households, 13,748 individuals


12/18/2017 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Saralin’s 10-Year Struggle Takes a Dramatic Turn

Before Saralin joined a Self-Help Group (SHG) through FRB’s India Umsning program, she’d struggled for 10 years as the head of her household to make ends meet and keep her two children in school. Besides farming, she also tried raising poultry. However, due to her lack of expertise, she didn’t earn as much as she expected from either activity.  

The training she and her SHG received in kitchen gardening and livestock rearing has transformed her life. Saralin now produces a variety of nutritious vegetables in different seasons to meet her family’s needs. And, after comprehensive livestock management training at a vocational center, her poultry business is thriving.

What Saralin learned gave her the confidence to take a loan from her SHG to purchase 500 chickens. It took her only two months to start earning a profit from selling eggs and chickens. She quickly paid back her loan, bought more chicks, and is even applying for a bank loan to further expand her business.

Through hard work and the steps she has taken to improve her life, Saralin has set a great example for other community members. She is now seen as one of the progressive poultry entrepreneurs in the village.

Says Saralin, “Since my Self Help Group formed, we’ve learned the importance of working together as a group, and have reaped the benefits of helping one another in the community.”

Story courtesy of Shamborlang Lakhiat
Caption: Saralin’s thriving poultry farm


India Umsning Program
Led by World Renew and local partner NEICORD
12 communities, 500 households, 2,500 individuals

11/30/2017 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

These Little Piggies Went to Market…and Changed Fortunes

The simple gift of a piglet from FRB’s Dominican Republic Bateyes program changed the fortunes of two mothers. And they, in turn, are “paying it forward,” enabling 10 neighboring families to make life-changing improvements to their circumstances as well.


Ramona is a widow with three children who feared she would become destitute. But things started to turn around when she received and raised her first piglet. She gave four of that sow’s initial offspring to neighbors and sold eight, using the proceeds to invest in more animals. She’s sold over 50 pigs to date and made more than $4,000.  Ramona’s business has thrived with help from her children and the day laborers she hires from among her neighbors. She now has nearly 100 animals and a brighter future.


Likewise, Juliana, mother of three, saw everything improve thanks to that one small gift. She has made $620 so far from selling piglets after giving six to neighbors. She’s thrilled that the money helped her send her two sons to school and pay for their school supplies, uniforms, backpacks, shoes and transportation.  


Best of all, Juliana’s pig business has brought her back to her community. She used to be a domestic worker in the nation’s capital, Santo Domingo, and made the commute home only on weekends.  Now, she earns enough to stay home, raise and sell pigs, and run a small grocery store she and her husband opened in their home.

Photo courtesy of CWS. Caption: Juliana with one of her pigs

Dominican Republic Bateyes Program
Led by Church World Service and local partner Servicio Social de Iglesias Dominicanas (SSID)
22 communities, 465 households, 3,255 individuals

11/14/2017 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Village Men are Following the Women’s Lead

People who fled their homes and villages due to conflict and extreme danger during the country’s civil war have been moving back to the area during the past five years.  Some villages had been abandoned for over 15 years, so people had to start over again, from scratch.

The farmer in this picture has taken advantage of all the conservation agriculture (CA) instruction the program offered. A simple but effective practice is mulching to retain soil moisture and improve soil fertility and composition.
 
She started out by planting a few test plots, with and without mulching, and readily saw the difference. Even though there has been less rain, and an invasion of army worms is devastating corn yields in the region, she will get a higher yield from her mulched plots.

When she was just learning about CA, she had a hard time convincing her husband to try it.  Now that he has seen the results he is fully on board. What’s more, other men who have observed the improved yields are asking the women to teach them what they’ve learned. In this way, the overall resiliency of the community is improving. Participants are moving from covering their basic needs to earning incomes and making improvements on their farms and in their lives.

Photo caption: Mulching improves soil and yields

Uganda Teso is Led by World Renew and Local Partner Katakwi Integrated Development Organization (KIDO)
12 communities, 802 households, 4,812 individuals

11/10/2017 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Home Gardening Helps Women Bloom

These four women show how participating in our Burkina Faso Central program is improving their families’ food security.


Egnomo: The Savings for Change group I belong to allows women to be independent. We pay dues each week, our group covers loans for small business ventures or to take care of problems, and each year we distribute our savings.  The meetings provide an open environment where everyone can feel comfortable. Together, we gain so much: money, joy, entertainment, solidarity, unity, advice and help. We support each other during the happy times and the sad.


Marie: Gardening offers us a lot of benefits, and we have become important in our husbands’ eyes. Because of our gardens, we can take care of the majority of our families’ expenses: food, education, children’s clothing, medical fees, and more. I just had my newborn baptized and covered all the costs of the celebration myself. Our improved good diet helps us avoid certain medical problems. All the members of my family are in perfect health, and we live in harmony. No more fighting, no more sadness, no more sickness. There are only bursts of laughter because everyone is joyful now.


Evourboue: Gardening is a noble activity that helps us to live well. I was always very worried about how I would feed my children and pay for their school fees and clothing. Since I started gardening, my problems have decreased. I grow many types of crops so I can vary my family’s diet. My children are no longer malnourished. I sell a part of my harvest to take care of my family’s needs. I can even keep my head high in front of all the women because I dress well, and I shine like a 30 year old! When I host a stranger, I give him or her some gifts from my garden, and this is such an honor for me. Like the blossoms on the plants in our gardens, we really are blooming.

Photo caption: Egnomo

Led by Mennonite Central Committee and Local Partner Office du Développement des Eglises Evangéliques
20 Communities, 250 Households, 2,500 Individuals

11/08/2017 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More
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