“Now I am a human,” said Beatrice, when I asked her about her life now compared to before she received her first loan of Sh150,000 (about $55) from Hope Ofriha in 2008. Beatrice is a refugee from South Sudan who escaped during the country’s civil war in 1997 – first to Kenya, then eventually settling in Kampala, Uganda. At first she sold vegetables in the local market, making very little money. She couldn’t afford to pay rent or to cover the school fees for her three children – two girls, and one little boy.
She soon heard about Hope Ofiriha, an organization that provides support for refugees from South Sudan. In 2008 she received her first microloan from the organization. With this loan she was able to take a sewing course, where she learned to make pillows and tablecloths with beautiful, intricate designs. She was able to buy cloth and thread, and began her own business, selling these crafts in the market. Since that time, she’s moved into a two-room house, she’s been able to send all three of her children to boarding school, and she’s even saved enough to buy a brand new sewing machine.
Beatrice has gained so much from the support she received from Hope Ofiriha that two years later she was elected the chairperson of the whole microlending organization. She explained to us how the women organize into groups of ten women – each receiving a loan and paying back the amount they’ve received with 10% interest, which is then leant to another woman. The loans vary in size, but generally are about $50-$90 each, depending on what type of business the individual woman wants to start or grow.
When the war ended about a year ago, many of the refugees returned to South Sudan, but over 100 of the women supported through Hope Ofriha stayed in Kampala. They said they would like to stay if possible – the schools are better in Uganda, and they’d like to give their children a chance at a better future. Hope Ofriha (and you as a donor!) has helped them begin to make that future a reality.
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