Women for Women International

In countries affected by conflict and war, Women for Women International supports the most marginalized women to earn and save money, improve health and well-being, influence decisions in their home and community, and connect to networks for support. By utilizing skills, knowledge, and resources, she is able to create sustainable change for herself, her family, and community.
Dec 11, 2012

Update from WfWI - Nigeria Country Director

WfWI's Poultry Marketing Initative is part of a comprehensive training program WfWI offers to participants. Read on for an update on the entire program from WfWI-Nigeria Country Director Ngozi Eze. 

 It is heart warming to write to you once again. I hope all is well with your families and friends and life is treating you beautifully. Over the last several months, we have taken part in a major expansion and have enrolled more. Thanks to a fantastic increase in sponsors over the last several months, we are able to provide our services to so many more women who truly need it. 


While enrolling participants in the Edem community in Enugu State, we discovered the community suffered an outbreak of tuberculosis. When some of the participants were asked how a family member passed away, they would usually attribute it to “being poisoned,” even though their family members had died from the disease. In order to address this misconception, we have now added more information to our rights awareness training about the prevention and care of tuberculosis, using a curriculum developed by the Ministry of Health. The information includes eating a balanced diet, keeping a healthy immune system and sleeping in well-ventilated rooms. 

In Jos, where our satellite office is located in the northern part of the country, we have been able to combine both the Muslim and Christian women into one classroom for workshops. Because of the religious conflict that has plagued the northern region of Nigeria, we previously had to have the women meet at two different locations. Initially, there was fear and suspicion on the minds of the participants, due to the violence that broke out in 2001. To their surprise, they were greeted by the people of the community. For some, it was like a reunion with their long lost friends whom they had not seen since the conflict. We are of the belief that with this new arrangement, we will be part of the peace-building process and we will continue to advocate for the peaceful coexistence of the two groups through our non-discriminatory stance, as well as through our rights awareness, leadership and skills training programs. 

Currently, 360 participants are participating in skills training, including soap-making, batik or “tie-dye” production, business skills training and knitting. We are also encouraging our participants to form groups and register as business cooperatives to use their new skills, as well as open bank accounts. Once a group registers as a cooperative, they are an “official organization” and therefore are entitled to benefits by the government in regards to taxation and interest rates. Although the registration and banking is a cumbersome process, as many villages do not have local banks, we believe that this will promote sound income-generation activities once they graduate from the program. 

One participant, Antonia, was a peasant farmer and sometimes sold tobacco on a small scale before joining our program. Her husband left her in the village and went to live in Enugu and married another woman. She was very sad and upset at having to care for her children alone. She lives in one room in her father-in-law’s house with a zinc roof and pit toilet. Apart from benefiting from the rights awareness training classes which enabled her to interact with other women, during the program she learned how to make shoes and repair them and she now specializes in slippers – a business she now runs from her home. She also sells basic provisions, such as drinks and condiments, from her home. Emotionally, she says she is much happier as she can now meet her children’s needs. She and her children still live in her father-in-law’s house. Her future goal is to improve on her shoemaking skills and become renowned in her village. She told us, “This organization has not only given me more money by teaching me to become a shoemaker, it has also helped to make me happy and reduce my constant thinking and worries.”

Till I write again, the participants and staff of the Nigeria office send you many thanks for all that you do.

We wish you peace, love and lots of blessings.

Sincerely,

Ngozi Eze
Country Director
Women for Women International -- Nigeria.


Nov 6, 2012

Meet Viviane

We could not do our work without the hard work of our in-country trainers, who will be the primary beneficiaries of the motorbikes. The trainers, who work with women in our program to teach them everything from vocational skills to health knowledge to important information about their rights, work tirelessly to help women in our program gain knowledge they can use to improve their lives. In addition to our main country offices, we often have satellite offices, and some trainers travel long distances to work with participants in these offices. Motorbikes will help trainers travel between offices more quickly, thereby allowing them to reach more women.

Like many of our program participants, our trainers often have their own amazing stories of triumph. Some were even program participants themselves, who come back to Women for Women International to teach other women the valuable skills they learned in the program. Read below for one woman's journey from victim to suvivor to active citizen. 

Viviane is a skills trainer for WfWI-DRC. She has been making soap since 2003, and a soap trainer for WfWI since 2005. In that time she has trained over 1,000 women many of whom have gone on to become teachers themselves or open successful businesses producing soap. Once forced to discontinue her education after working hard to get to university, Viviane has become a great success and single-handedly supports her six children, all of whom are in school, while continuing as a trainer and running her own soap-making business.

Viviane Mahongole Barhumvanya works with Women for Women International-DRC training women to make soap. Since 2005, Viviane has trained over 1,000 of WfWI-DRC’s participants to become skilled soap makers. Some of the women Viviane has trained have gone on to become trainers themselves. Many others have been hired by production companies or opened small businesses of their own producing and selling soap. 

Viviane is a good teacher. She’s dedicated to the position as evidenced by her four-year long commitment to training WfWI-DRC participants. In addition to her training, Viviane is herself a skilled soap maker and runs a soap-making business out of her home, supplying soap to 50-some business groups.

Viviane pursued her education at a young age. She graduated from elementary school in Kivu and secondary school in Bukavu. She went on to university at the Rural Development College, but her financial situation unfortunately prevented her from finishing. Instead, Viviane pursued soap making to earn a stable income. Becoming a teacher has been a rewarding experience. A single mother of six children, she encourages her children and wants to provide them with the best education. Her oldest daughter is in her first year of university, and her second recently graduated from high school. Her younger children, three sons and one daughter, are all still in high school. Education for all her children, especially her daughters, is one of Viviane’s most important goals in life.

Over the years, Viviane’s dedication to her students and work as a trainer has earned her the utmost respect of her superiors, and she is rewarded with greater responsibility. “…[O]ur department leaders…involve me in the analysis and designing of training modules. My unit gives me additional tasks related to the management of the solidarity small cash box recently created in our department.” She’s proud of all that she has accomplished, and all that her students are accomplishing each day. This year, Viviane and twenty other women from WfWI-DRC were accepted into a business and management training program sponsored by Goldman Sachs and taught by instructors from the University of Dar es Salaam. Once forced to leave school when it became too expensive, Viviane is thrilled now that she will be able to continue her education as part of this program. She is proud of her achievements, and is just one more example of the positive, multiplied change that occurs when women are empowered to become business-women and teachers.


Oct 18, 2012

Meet Zia Gul, a WfWI Vocational Skills Trainer

One very important part of WfWI's vocational training skills program is the trainers. Read on to learn about Zia Gul, a WfWI job skills trainer who teaches WfWI program participants how to knit. Her students learn a vital skill which enables them to earn an income to send their children to school.

Zia, a 45 year-old wife and mother, came to Women for Women International-Afghanistan's office holding one pair of knitted socks. She, like most women in Afghanistan, suffered under the Taliban regime, where women were not allowed to attend school or work; appear in public without a burqa; use cosmetics; play sports; wear bright colors; or even laugh out loud.

She struggled to support her 7 children and husband, who was debilitated from a heart attack. Women attending classes at our offices watched Zia as she knitted socks and asked questions. It soon became apparent that many women wanted to learn how to knit like Zia. Zia was hired by Women for Women International-Afghanistan as one of our first vocational skills trainers. Zia is pleased to share her knowledge, "I earn money for my family and share my skills with other women. I am proud to teach others."

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