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.
Mar 27, 2012

Yar's Story

Yar's Story

20-year old Hellena Yar Maguen has been with Women for Women International- South Sudan since 2007. She earns enough to support herself and her family, all despite paralysis in her right hand. She is one of WfWI-Sudan’s best success stories, and living proof that one’s abilities are not only skin-deep.

According to Western standards she would be considered just a young girl, but at age 20 Hellena Yar Maguen is already the mother of a 4-month baby boy, Makur, and the sole bread-winner for her family of three. Yar has never known life outside her grass thatched, mud-walled house in her father’s homestead, two kilometers from Pacong town in South Sudan. She laughs when she says she’s never been farther than the two-kilometer walk necessary to fetch water.

When she was two years old, Yar contracted polio leaving her right hand paralyzed. Only her left hand is functional. Yet Yar works daily on Women for Women International-Sudan’s communal farm, maintaining six plots of land and earning $175 each month. She dazzles all who meet her with her light and jovial attitude and has earned the utmost respect from her fellow participants in the Women for Women International-South Sudan (WfWI-South Sudan).

Yar joined WfWI-Sudan in 2007 and excelled as one of the program’s top students. She began working on the farm when it opened in 2008, cultivating kale, cowpeas, and okra. Not only has Yar earned the respect of her fellow women, but also that of her husband, Majok, who seems to be an anomaly in this community where women are traditionally treated as property by their husbands. Yar is Majok’s only wife, which is unusual in her Dinka community where most men take many wives. They have a very happy marriage. When Yar is unable to attend to her plots, Majok is always at hand to help. And when she must go to  work, Majok will take on the responsibility of caring for their 4-month old son.

Yar is one of the many success storiesWfWI- South Sudan, but hers is perhaps most remarkable given her physical disability. But Yar is living proof that her disability is not an inability. With the money she earns, Yar is able to provide for her family as well as put some away into a bank account. She hopes to secure a small loan to start her own business in the future and to see Makur receive a good education. She has dreams of building a permanent home for herself, Majok and baby Makur away from her father’s settlement.  Yar’s hard work and determination, and the support from her family and community, will make these dreams come true. 

Mar 26, 2012

Chiemeucheya Oruku

Women working in a co-operative.
Women working in a co-operative.

The Chiemeucheya women group is from Nkanu East local government area of Enugu state. This group is made up of low income women and was selected after community assessments, home visits and meetings with stake holders in the community. This community lacks basic amenities like water, electricity, good roads, health centers etc. The majority of the women had little or no education and were struggling to recover from the ills of former communal clashes in their community and as well deal with the economic hardships they were facing. Security issues in this community also created disruptions to education, as children had to be kept at home.

The original number of women enrolled was 160. Out of the 160, 156 are active. The active participants formed and registered as a cooperative group under the name chiemeucheya; which when   translated means that God has done his wish by uniting them to work together and strengthen each other as a group.

They received all the topics scheduled by the program under the major broad headings below

  • Program introduction and overview
  • Women in politics
  • Women in economy
  • Women in the family
  • Women and health
  • Women and nutrition

They also received skill training on poultry and did an initial pilot test with a total of 150 birds which they sold off after they reached maturity at 10 weeks. Due to the success of their first attempt at poultry farming and still using their temporary poultry site, they ordered for a second batch of 200 birds to be reared. Through the trainings they received, they learnt about the importance of savings and thus opened an account where they lodge in their savings (money).

Their traditional ruler, stakeholders, as well as members of land committee in their community gave them a piece of land where they could erect their permanent poultry house. They have started clearing the land and would start construction once they finalize signing of an agreement with the stakeholders with the help of a lawyer.

These women declared that the formation of their co-operative is a long term investment which would help them to improve their lives emotionally, socially and economically as they have learnt to trust each other.

Some of the women had this to say about the progress they have made so far.

“My name is Theresa Ogbu. I am a single mother of three girls all below 9 years. I separated from my husband after he abandoned me for another woman because I was unable to have a surviving male child. My only son died when he was still a toddler. I used part of the funds I got from the program to start up my sewing business in my father’s house. I was sewing before I got married but my husband made me to stop it after we had married. I make between N600 – N 800 per month because not everybody makes new clothes. Part of the funds I received also helped me to cultivate more crops in my farm than I never did before. Having learnt about poultry farming during their skill training, I am now saving towards starting a poultry farm of my own.”

“My Name is Agatha Nwatu. I am mother of seven (5 boys and 2 girls). Some of my children were sent at a tender age to work as house helps for other people. Though sending them out was not my intention, I had to comply with my husband because of our financial constraints. Participating in the program and joining the cooperative group helped me to interact with other participants, with whom I share my challenges with. I am happier than before I joined the program. This is because before I joined the program, I  get foodstuffs (which I sell) on credit and pays back after selling. But because I have a target on when to pay back, I had to sell them off with little or no profit so that I will not loose the trust of the wholesaler. When I started receiving monthly sponsorship funds, I used part of it to solve my immediate family problems, saved part of it, and reduced buying on credit. Instead of buying all the food items on credit, I pay for some and take my time to sell and with this I make more profit.” 

Women work to clear ground.
Women work to clear ground.
Feb 14, 2012

Training in the Field

Training in the Field
Training in the Field

Thoughts from staff visiting the field in Democratic Republic of the Congo.

WfWI-DRC has the largest program in the Women for Women International network. Looking at the country at large, the areas in which we work seem rather close in vicinity, especially relative to the size of the country (nearly the same landmass as Western Europe). However, looking at the prominently placed map of DRC in the Bukavu headquarters, it is clear that the communities WfWI-DRC serve are nowhere near each other; from North to South, Goma, Bukavu, Baraka, and Uvira are hours away from each other. Motorbikes are a necessity for our staff members to travel to the women in our Training of Trainers (ToT) Program.

The ToT’s purpose is to ToT gives an in-depth orientation to the newly deepened Women’s World Manual Curriculum, help the Renewing Women’s Life Skills trainers improve their facilitation skills, and most importantly help them solve problems so they can more effectively serve the women participants. DRC training crew have significant challenges, but they are uniquely placed to have a great impact on the women we serve.

The 37 trainers, plus office and sub-office staff introduce themselves. The youngest trainer is 22 — the oldest trainers playfully decline to give their age. The trainers are young, mature, married, widowed, divorced, single, and have training in many different fields. There are trained teachers, nurses, lawyers, and agronomists in the training staff. WfWI-DRC has the best trainers to be had in the country. Also present is Honorata, the prime example of WfWI successes, is present among the Baraka group of trainers.

Most trainers enjoy delivering the health and wellness sessions. It’s c an be amazing how little the women we serve know about their bodies and basic things like basic hygiene and nutrition. Their poverty makes it difficult to effectively manage their health. When you live in a mud hut with a thatched roof, no indoor plumbing, and no electricity, how healthy can we reasonably expect our program participants to be? It isn’t surprising that the trainers enjoy delivering this module. to see immediate Its impact is immediate and visib, le, as it alsoand allows the trainers to feel good about their jobs.

The majority of the trainers are excited about educating participants. Participation in the program is also helping them to strengthen their relations with one another, which is important because they live in the same community.

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