Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Saving is great! Another woman's words...

I didn't write this story. It's actually a modified version of a case study collected by a colleague last week, and I've been working on translating it tonight. But it's what's on my mind today and I found it to be encouraging and so I thought I'd share it with you. The story probably needs some background to really make sense, but I hope you at least enjoy the spirit of what this lovely woman is saying!

I am 39 years old, a housewife, and I live in a camp for displaced people. I am from one of the Noo tribes - originally from a part of the Noo Mountains known as the six villages, of a tribe called K. My village is located east of our tribe's mountain and is bordered to the west by an agricultural project where they grow sesame and bread and corn and cotton. I am descended from a Muslim family both by my father and my mother's father. I now live with my husband and my three children. My husband was working in the Military army, but was transferred out, and he now works as a day labour construction worker.

I first joined the women's savings group 13 months ago, and am in my second cycle of savings. The savings group is called “Togetherness”.

I heard about the savings group idea through my husband, he told me that there were girls teaching the women in Block 15 and gave me the name of the teacher there. He said, "There are people who have a savings fund and I spoke to the leaders of the group and told them to come here." I went, along with some of the women from my block, to Block 15. We met the teacher and we agreed to hold a meeting with the women of Block 37 to tell us the idea behind saving. I did that because I really wanted to do something for women's development in the Block.

Most of the women in my group are from tribes near my own, but there are actually women from all over. The great majority of members are married and all of them are Muslim. Before starting the group I was making handicrafts in my spare time, and a few other women spent their time in Qur'an classes before. Now I continue to build my little

business of handicrafts.

Our group means togetherness - people are interdependent with each other, solving the problems of others and solving our own problems. So saving together creates a unique social fabric. I did not know members of the group before but now relations are strong among all the members of our group.

Before, I didn't know that savings together would mean things like a constitution and laws and fines. The most important element was to have a regular meeting of all members in one place, as we do in our group. This means that social relations are strong between me and the women, women who I did not even know before. For me, everything about my life became completely different, even the my daily routines changed: before I didn't have anyone by me I could consult about my needs, and I'd only want to talk to my family who don't live near me. The second thing is that I visit all the women of my group on a regular basis, we have become like one family.

In general, we have been sharing a lot of traditions and customs among members of the group, especially since most members come from different tribes. First, we learned folk dances, and then also we have exchanged cuisine traditions such as the number of food dishes with tomatoes that you cook with water from the watermelon and different spices. One time, one of the group members took a watermelon and brought a whole plate of the dish to the group members. Some of the other women brought different dishes such as one with leaves from a watercress tree, and onion tree leaves, and also radishes and chilli leaves with spices as well. The members all take part in all of it. Members also shared seedlings with each other.

Our house was lacking some of the things that my husband can't provide me, but by saving I was able to set up my house. The most important thing is that my daughter is in peace. She had left school because of her father's inability to pay tuition fees, and thank God, with the savings, I was able to pay for her and she sat for the final exam, and everyone in the house was happy. We didn't lose a whole year for her because of tuition fees. So you see, the savings group has provided each family member with some benefit, thank God.

Sharing this today with the lovely group of people over at Emily's Imperfect Prose

8 comments:

Brian Miller said...

wow. thank you for the glimpse into the lives of those that you work with. lovely to see their faith and diligence rewarded...

LauraX said...

Wow Kati...thank you for sharing this beautiful story! I loved this line "Our group means togetherness - people are interdependent with each other, solving the problems of others and solving our own problems." So empowered and filled with gratitude. My heart feels happy!

Jodi said...

This was an uplifting story and refreshing to read, considering all the sad news lately.

Joybird said...

I know I've said it before, but I love coming here. I never know what I'll read but it's always interesting. I love hearing how this displaced(?) woman's life has changed by building community. Saving is great!

David N. said...

This is fantastic. Thanks, Kati.

Cathy said...

Thank you so much for reminding me to be grateful...

Elaine said...

What a lovely story well told. Thank you!

emily wierenga said...

oh kati i love how you breathe life into this other part of the world, how you show their humanity and their soul. you are beautiful, sister.

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