Women for Women International

Women for Women International provides women survivors of war, civil strife and other conflicts with the tools and resources to move from crisis and poverty to stability and self-sufficiency, thereby promoting viable civil societies.
Sep 26, 2012

Meet Rose

Rose - Photo Credit Tadej Znidarcic
Rose - Photo Credit Tadej Znidarcic

Meet WfWI - South Sudan graduate Rose. She is married with 7 children. During the civil war in Sudan she lost 2 of her children. Her home was also destroyed. Looking for ways to rebuild her life, Rose found WfWI. She enrolled in WfWI's year-long comprehensive training program and received training in rights awareness, health education, business skills. She also learned how to bake rolls, donuts and other bread items to sell at market. Through her business, she now earns enough money to put some aside each month in a bank account. But Rose hasn't stopped there. After her graduation she returned to WfWI to train other women to become bakers. She goes to local radio stations to talk about the importance of educating children, particularly girls. Rose is a truly wonderful example of what can happen with a bit of hard work and perseverance. 

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Aug 28, 2012

Meet Alice, a WfWI Trainer

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. 

When you meet Alice Kiza Nahayo, you’ll find her full of glowing optimism. As a successful, joyful, and confident literacy trainer for Women for Women International-DRC, it’s hard to imagine the tragedies she has endured throughout her life. Yet Alice has had a long journey – she actually started out in the Women for Women International family as a participant. The depth of her personal triumph is apparent when she tells her story of survival from an orphan and victim of gender-based violence and rebirth as a loving mother and teacher.

Born in Burundi in 1968, Alice was orphaned in early childhood and raised under the harsh realities of a racist headmistress in an orphanage torn by Hutu and Tutsi tribal tensions. Brutal tribal conflicts govern the region where Alice, a Tutsi minority, grew up, and eventually lead to the horrifying Rwandan genocide of 1994. Alice experienced harsh discrimination in the orphanage that she is unable to describe to this day. She married as a young woman, eager to leave the hardships of her childhood behind, and became optimistic that she would finally feel at home in a place where she belonged. Alice was happy with her four children and felt that her life would be forever changed.

But after the birth of her fourth child, Alice’s husband began to beat and insult her daily. Her husband’s family mistreated her as well. One day, Alice’s husband beat her so badly that her right arm was broken; he set fire to her high school diploma, her prized possession and a symbol of her past achievements. With nowhere to turn, Alice escaped to Uvira, a city the province of South Kivu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). She fled with her youngest son, who was quite ill at the time and for whose safety she was also very concerned.

Although she was now safe from the violence and discrimination of her husband and his family, Alice had few options for survival upon arrival in Uvira. As refugees, she and her son were given no assistance. As a woman and a Tutsi, options for employment were difficult to come by for Alice. They were without food, shelter, and her son’s poor health condition was worsening by the day. Eventually he died and Alice buried him in their new home. She was devastated. She felt that there was nothing left for her.  That’s when Women for Women International-DRC (WfWI-DRC) found Alice.

Alice began as a participant in the WfWI-DRC program in March 2008, receiving direct financial aid, rights awareness and vocational skills training and psychosocial support from other participants, trainers, and her sponsor. At first, Alice was shy, sickly, and incapable of sharing her experiences with the group. Over time, the warm and familial atmosphere shared by the women participants in the Women for Women program drew Alice out of her shell and allowed her to become more confident and more willing to speak about and overcome her past tragedies. Her favorite subject was that of women’s rights, which sparked her interests and allowed her to regain her self-esteem.

Alice’s new-found confidence gave her the courage to share her knowledge and empower other participants in the WfWI-DRC program. She began to teach the other women about the realities of domestic violence, herself a survivor of life-threatening beatings by her husband. She excelled in her vocational skills training in culinary arts. The program staff considered her to be one of the most dynamic members of her group, a fact confirmed when she was invited to train fellow women in the program. She is now a literacy trainer for other women in the WfWI-DRC program.

“I am very happy to have been socially integrated in the community of my refuge,” Alice said of her experience with Women for Women in Uvira. “I am able to earn an income to sustain myself and my daughter.” The women she trains with are often heard to say that they hope to become like Alice one day.  She has come such a long way from tribal discrimination in the orphanage, violence and humiliation at her husband’s hand, and extreme poverty and social exclusion as a refugee; her inner strength to overcome these many hardships is an inspiration. That she is now helping and inspiring other women to rebuild their lives is the ultimate testament to her strength and success.

Jul 11, 2012

The Nigerian Poultry Marketing Initiative: A Model of Success for Socially Excluded Women

A participant in a poultry house.
A participant in a poultry house.

The poultry marketing initiative (PMI) model was born out of the belief that socially excluded women can successfully compete in commerce. In Nigeria, a significant number of women produce poultry, and PMI is the logical next step for them to put their knowledge and skills to work. The PMI model builds on women's production successes and provides fresh, locally produced poultry at lower prices.

The primary goal of PMI is to bring about increased self-employment and income for participants involved in poultry production. Women for Women International envisions PMI as a phased program, in which women move from producers to processors, managers and ultimately, to owners who actively compete in the Nigerian poultry value chain. The initiative focuses on using a strategic agribusiness model that will be applied to support the efforts of Women for Women International-Nigeria in Enugu and help train women who are primarily family farmers (subsistence farmers) gain the skills that will further their ability to engage, function independently and profit from the agricultural market by becoming small- to medium-scale poultry producers.

How has PMI succeeded?

More than 70 groups, made up of 875 women, are engaged in small-scale poultry production and are attempting to enter Nigeria's commercial poultry market. Two poultry/processing houses are almost complete in two separate communities: Mmaku and Umualor. A cooperative in Oruku has formed and is selling approximately 50 birds a week to GTBank. Bank employees place a group order with the cooperative and women manage all negotiations, packaging and deliveries. This cooperative will become part of a marketing association that will include Umualor and Mmaku and additional Women for Women International-Nigeria groups.

Consumers have responded to the production of fresh and local poultry and frequently travel two hours down dirt roads to purchase Women for Women International-Nigeria's products. Demand in and around Enugu is high: A recent survey of potential market partners demonstrated that large-scale commercial poultry vendors could not supply enough fresh poultry to meet demand.

This will be Women for Women International-Nigeria cooperatives' market nichesÑPMI participants have an advantage over frozen, expensive and chemically treated poultry products because they use less advanced technology and take advantage of the low cost of production.

In addition to processing fresh poultry meat, PMI cooperatives have also begun selling poultry manure to use as organic fertilizers in and around their communities. This next step has the potential to lead into a commercial farming activity similar to Women for Women International's Commercial Integrated Farming Initiative that combine animal husbandry and crop production.

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