Meet WfWI graduate Rose. She is married with 7 children. While participating in WfWI's programs Rose learned baking skills, and now sells baked good at the market to earn a living for herself and her family. She is also a trainer at WfWI, teaching other women these skills so they to can use the skills to earn an income.
Rose’s accomplishments and continuing hard work are even more impressive when taken in context.
The economy in South Sudan – a country just over one year old – is in economic crisis. Inflation has skyrocketed as the South Sudanese pound has depreciated.
The women we serve are among the poorest and most socially excluded. The rising price of goods means that our program participants and graduates cannot afford to make the purchases they need to operate their small income generation activities. For the women we serve, earning an income right now is very difficult.
In addition to the economic troubles, South Sudan is facing a major humanitarian crisis. Refugees are fleeing from fighting in the north and inter-communal violence is a persistent threat.
Check out the video interview with Rose below!
The training WfWI provides to participants in South Sudan does so much more than allow them to just open a bakery. Read on for a note from a WfWI staff member about the importance of investing in women and how much of an impact it can have on families and communities.
Women in Sudan are faced with extreme challenges. Female illiteracy rate hovers at 90%, only 36% of girls in Sudan are enrolled in primary school. Early marriage is widespread and the maternal death rate is among the highest in the world.
For the women that we serve, expectations are minimal – women desire access to clean water, land, and education for their children. Women want security, protection and the ability to cultivate crops. What the elections offer is an opportunity to create a supportive environment to enable the entrepreneurial development of the people. The women and the people of Sudan are hungry for change. Change for them means food, education, protection and security.
We place so much hope in governments and invest so many resources into them--as we should--but we often forget to do the same with the people, especially with women. To build strong nations, we need to invest in women. Good governance benefits significantly from an engaged and active citizenship. As citizens, women cannot be engaged and active if they are hungry, powerless and vulnerable. So what Sudan needs, both now and after the upcoming elections, is investment. We need to invest in developing Sudan’s women by supporting their skill-building, which will in turn encourage the nation’s economic development.
Women, in the context of Sudan, have suffered severely and continue to suffer today. We need to support them and their ongoing efforts to ensure the progress of Sudan as a whole. Yes, one of the soundest strategy is the development of Sudan’s most marginalized citizens, women and children. The Sudanese people crave deliverables that will translate into real progress and development.
Supporting women will contribute to the foundation of a strong and dynamic civil society, from economic development and to the creation of education and infrastructure. We can build and strengthen the country’s women and its vulnerable population as whole.
Investments from the international community intended to encourage the development of Sudan through the empowerment of women protect the interests of the majority of the population. It is not a matter of personal gain. Women are already actively involved in rebuilding the country through the family and the community, but they lack the necessary resources and skills. With proper investment, the women of Sudan can be a driving force in rebuilding the devastated and war-torn. We need to invest in Sudan’s women.
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.
Mary Lith is 36 years old and has been in the groundnut business since July 2010. She joined WfWI's program in February 2009 where she learned agricultural and business skills through CIFI training. Prior to the training, Mary produced groundnuts as a source of food for her family because her "husband did not provide for them." After starting her business, Mary is now not only able to provide a basic living for her family, she is able to invest in her business and help it grow.
As Mary's business grew, she saw an opportunity to invest in cattle. She first bought an inexpensive older cow for approximately $200 which she slaughtered for meat to sell. Mary then invested those profits in a lactating cow that produces 4 to 6 liters of milk a day in the wet season. Mary keeps some milk for her children and sells the rest. Cow's milk is high in protein, vitamins, and minerals, providing great nutritional benefit for growing children and pregnant women. Mary does all the milking and tends to the cow's veterinary care. Soon she will breed this cow and sell its calf to invest in more cows.
When asked about running her small business, Mary said: "Learning skills is a gift. I have been given a precious gift from Women for Women that has helped me earn an income and provide nutrition for my family. This is the best gift I have ever received."
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.
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