Focus group discussion
“Business was going well, and I could sell 18,000 in a week (roughly 36$).
I did not have a bank account or a meeting, but I had a place where I was keeping money. I was thinking of a plot of land... or a store, something big that could come in the future.
But my mother got really sick, and I could not leave her to die.
This past year I spent more than 500,000 fr (roughly 1000$) in hospitals. I had to do something. I only got back on my feet because of you (your support!) and a neighbor whom I asked for a loan. But even then, I was really down. Not so long ago some young boys by the main road were laughing at my worn shoes. I did not have a franc with me and the shoes were bad, I had patched them anyhow.
One year ago, my mother was even helping me from time to time to add more capital to the business, now I’m having all the burden on me. She’s too weak to work. The day I don’t sell well we just don’t eat.”
This is Elekta. A story you might be familiar with, and don’t worry, help is on the way thanks to many generous donors. But we wanted to share her story to put you in situation.
Last week we had a focus group discussion with girls of the program. It was mostly about exploring the possibility of a partnership with the Mutual Health Program. A system of public insurance. We wanted to see their perspectives, so they got talking about their latest visits to the hospital and how much did that impact them. If Elekta had been registered with the program she would have saved at least 200,000 fr and would have been in a way better position today. The results were clear, we should take this step. It’s not only a way of securing our results (if they can afford health care they will not destroy the capital of their businesses) it’s also a matter of public health. “Last year I had a stomach problem” I spent 1 week without being able to work, and 2 more weeks without being able to work because I had spent all of my money and had to beg to my family for more. Now I just buy the same medicine in places around the quarter, I don’t go to the hospital. I know I could be sick from something else, I know is not the right thing to do. But I can’t afford consultation and testing.” That’s Blanche.
This Friday 10th of March you are covering 37 girls’ Health Insurance for a year and we are also making a big event out of it, encouraging their families and other community members to pay the very affordable fee and register themselves into the program. We will be sharing our results soon.
We also took the opportunity of having a closed focus group to ask about the program. They of course like it, but not only because we have helped them. “Let’s say, for the next group of girls, what should we do? The same thing? Or could we do something better?” “Do the same exact thing. This is good.” They do have some doubts about some of their peers, and this is worrying. They have asked us to closely crosscheck everybody’s several times before giving anything else. This could be a way of telling us that somebody is playing dirty (showcasing a fake business) without pointing at anybody. This is good and shows that they are also jealous with your money. Don’t worry, we have systems in place in the community to check such things.
But this could also be something else. We have a similar feedback from some community members, they have stigmatized young girls to the point that they never trust them “those young girls are not serious, they are just wasting your money”, even when confronted with hard facts proving that the vast majority of girls are doing well and are active. They acknowledge each individual case but go back to the general perception “those girls are not serious. You should give money to the men/old women”. Sadly, the girls themselves seem to have interiorized this mindset.
This is also a form of gender inequality and discrimination, a form that we hope this project will contribute to eradicate. This is reason to keep focusing on young girls, each girl like Elekta and Blanche is a living proof that they are more than serious.
Also…We are campaigning for a sport in the GlobalGiving fund for Women and Girls! We need as many small donations as possible, get all your friends to donate their 10$ if we are among the top projects by the 14th of March we could earn a permanent spot worth more than $20,000 in funding! Imagine how many lives could we change, and we just need your 10 dollars and your energy to ask another person. It’s really hard to have an online campaign with almost no access to internet, we count on your help to spread the word.
Antoinette makes more than $50 a month. thank you!
Christina is proud to be supporting her mother.
Ernestine is a farmer and a cook.