Sandra, February 2016
"NO MATTER THE SITUATION, YOU HAVE THE POWER TO CHANGE IT"
Sandra is a forty-year-old woman from Kwaso, a rural community in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. Sandra dropped out of junior high school at age 19 when she became pregnant with her first and only child. Girls are not allowed to go to school while pregnant, and there was never an opportunity to go back to school to complete her education after her son was born. She resorted to selling fruits to earn a living.
Sandra was never able to marry the man who impregnated her because her family refused to give him her hand in marriage because of existing tribal conflicts between the two families, and the fact that Sandra was not ready for marriage at the time. It is a source of pain for Sandra that after her son was born, he went to live with his father, apart from Sandra since she was struggling to provide for him on her own.
Returns from the sale of fruits were not encouraging and so Sandra’s mother taught her to prepare kenkey, a fermented corn-based food, for sale. Sandra would wake up very early in the morning to prepare and sell kenkey in her community and assist her mother by working on her farm. She used earnings from her kenkey business to provide for herself. Sandra’s mother, who incidentally raised Sandra as a single mother herself, was a member of Self-Help International (SHI) micro-credit program at Kwaso. She introduced Sandra to Madam Olivia, the leader of the group at Kwaso, who then invited Sandra to SHI’s micro-credit program to improve her financial situation.
Sandra joined the micro-credit program in 2012 and took out her first loan of GHC 100 (US $25). She continued to work hard selling kenkey to make ends meet, though it was a struggle. Then in May and June 2015, SHI micro-credit program organized a series of training sessions to teach women at Kwaso to make additional businesses out of beads, including how to make earrings, necklaces, bracelets and casual flip-flop sandals locally called “Charlie”. “Charlie” is a type of rubber slip-on designed to be worn when bathing. Recently most people have learned to modify the designs on the slip-on and now it serves other purposes as well. “Charlie” can now be worn to many places such as markets, church, and funerals.
After the workshops, Sandra decided to make a business out of the beads by making and selling decorative ‘charlie’ sandals during special occasions, especially funerals. Since last August, Sandra now has two sources of income: vending kenkey and selling “Charlie.” Sandra has built her creditworthiness up to now taking out a loan of GHC 600 (US $150), which she invests in her two businesses.
Last August, Self-Help organized additional training sessions on the importance of savings, how to save up, and then helped fifty-nine women to open their very first bank accounts. After years of living hand-to-mouth, Sandra now has a formal savings account with a commercial bank!
By dint of hard work, Sandra has been able to save some money to acquire a piece of land, and she is preparing to build a house and move out of her family home for the first time. Sandra is self-reliant now. She is a proud woman who feels empowered by Self-Help and the lovely people surrounding her. She believes SHI micro-credit and her family’s support has brought her this far. She is forever grateful to SHI and its donors across the globe.
Mother's Day is next Sunday, May 8. Why not give your mother or grandmother the gift of empowering a woman like Sandra in her honor? When you make a gift to this project, you'll empower a mother in need - plus it's easy to print a card to let mom know what you've done in her honor!
Learning beadmaking, May 2015
Learning beadmaking, June 2015
Showing off at Sept 2015 Women's Leadership Summit
Sandra proudly shows off her charlies