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Self Help Groups - The Adama Success Story

Self Help Groups - The Adama Success Story – 6 Feb 2014

The first five SHGs were established in June 2002 by the Ethiopian Kale Heywet Church (EKHC). Each of those SHGs had 20 voluntary members recruited from the poorest of the poor in the local community. Now there are 310 SHGs in Adama Town alone and 167 groups in the surrounding towns where people have seen what we have done and we have shared our experience.

EKHC gave us training in how to run meetings, budgeting, savings and credit. We learned to minimise unnecessary expenses and maximise our savings. In those days each of us saved 10 cents (0.01 euro) a day to enable us to contribute 50 cents (0.02 euro) each week to the group savings. Now, ten years later, the group members save between 5 birr (0.25 euro) and 200 birr (€9.27) a week each.

After a while we started borrowing from our savings for different purposes. This rescued us from paying high interest rates to illegal money-lenders. In the beginning the most a member could borrow was 34 birr (€1.57). Now the biggest loan that a group has made is 32,000birr (€1,483.95) and group capital ranges from 10,000birr (€464.49), in the newest groups, to 300,000birr (€13,920.76). By saving and borrowing from our own savings we are not only able to improve our economic status but also to support others by creating employment opportunities. The SHGs have also increased our social interaction, our concern for each other, our management and decision-making skills, our understanding of women and children’s rights, and our understanding of our rights to vote and stand for election.

After 6 months of formation around 12 SHGs form Cluster Level Associations (CLAs) by nominating 2 representatives from each SHG. There are now 22 CLAs in Adama Town. One of the functions of CLAs is to create networks and relationships with different government offices and NGOs to lobby them concerning local community needs. In this way we have influenced the provision of potable water, electric power, roads and schools. Four of the CLAs have opened Kindergartens for children from poor families between the ages of 3 ½ and 6 years , charging very reasonable fees. We have also given scholarships to 81 orphaned children from the community. 65 group members have learned to read and write because they have been taught by literate colleagues. We produce and sell bags made from recycled plastics. This, apart from the economic benefit, is useful in terms of protecting the environment. We have also taken part in projects to produce fuel efficient stoves, to plant trees and to clean our neighbourhoods.

The legal registration of this Coalition is the latest development of the SHG programme. We are planning to eventually take over the role of the NGO. Our vision is to see a poverty-free Ethiopia with gender equality and justice. Our mission is to provide support for SHGs and CLAs for the fulfillment of their own visions as well as to contribute to the social and economic development of the wider community in Adama Town. “Hope for Tomorrow” Coalition of SHGs was founded by 13 CLAs. There are a further 9 CLAs that have now met the preconditions for joining the Coalition. The total capital of all SHGs in Adama Town is 5,843,821birr (€271,446.90). The overall capital of all SHG members, including their working capital, is 42,024,314birr (€1,949,567.62). Our next plan is to open a Community Resource Centre and a community bank that can serve all the local community.

Find out more about
Self Help Groups
Coffee Campaign supporting SHG

Photo above: Senait Taye, General Secretary of the “Hope for Tomorrow” Coalition of Self Help Groups (SHGs) in Adama and a founder member of the Adama SHGs

Meseret

Meseret – 28 Jan 2014

For the first time women like Meseret feel empowered to have their voice heard and to earn vital income so that they can improve their children’s futures.

Meseret (pictured right) says – “I can’t express in words what my group means to me. They are my sisters – we support each other in everything. And we help to look after the rest of the community. By saving and investing in small businesses, I was able to completely transform my life and give my daughters a better future”

Meseret felt hopeless and alone when she was breastfeeding her daughter Kalkidan. Her husband’s labourer salary provided scraps of food and they slept on the floor with no possessions. They had 50 birr to their name.

When she heard about self help group – Addis Alem or “New World”, Meseret went along. What she found was a group of 17 women and a facilitator who had just set up a group bank account and were saving 50 cents a week each.

Meseret wondered what was the point in saving an amount that was so tiny but agreed to join and became the book keeper for the group. The group grew from strength to strength, not only providing business loans to one another but also social support for childcare and healthcare bills.

“The group allowed me to take a 50 Birr loan and I bought and sold charcoal for a good profit. I started making handicrafts and was able to send my child to school”.

A member of Meseret’s group encouraged her to go to church and she decided to go and see what was going on one Sunday with her husband Belay. They happened to arrive when the congregation was flooding out and Belay commented “don’t the faces of these Christian people look beautiful”. Meseret & Belay are now Christians and use all the opportunities that they have to introduce others to the church.

Meseret gained so much confidence that she applied for a job at the Government Office and is now responsible for Women’s and Children’s welfare issues.

Meseret says “if I had the resources, I would write a book about my story because I am so passionate about helping others to see that they can change their futures”.

She helps new groups in her town but says that she will continue to meet with her original group until she dies, they are like family.

Please help Tearfund to set up new groups through the Kale Heywet Church in Ethiopia.

More about Self-Help Groups (SHG)

SYRIA UPDATE: LONG-AWAITED PEACE TALKS ON 22 JANUARY

SYRIA UPDATE: LONG-AWAITED PEACE TALKS ON 22 JANUARY – 15 Jan 2014

Aged just 12, Mirah* already knows more about the horrors of war than many of us will in a lifetime.

Growing up in the city of Homs in western Syria, she attended school and played with her two brothers.

However, as the conflict escalated Mirah’s childhood changed beyond recognition. Her brothers were forced to flee the country after being arrested and tortured. Soon after this, her family home was bombed during a night of attacks on the city.

Mirah was separated from her parents and helped across the mountains into Lebanon by some of the other survivors. She was sure she had lost her mother and father forever.

Amazingly, sometime later Mirah was reunited with her parents in a camp in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. Tearfund partner Heart for Lebanon is now providing them with monthly food and hygiene packages, along with supportive follow-up visits.

Mirah’s family is very grateful for this support, which is helping them survive the harsh winter. But it isn’t a long-term solution.

With the conflict in Syria still raging, families like Mirah’s are hoping that the upcoming Geneva II peace talks will signal the start of a positive change.

  • Give thanks that the peace talks are still on track for 22 January. Pray that all parties will attend and ask God to help those present to find a workable solution to the conflict.
  • Pray for those in Syria affected by the worsening fighting as parties try to gain ground ahead of the talks.
  • Pray for refugees and displaced people like Mirah as they face the additional hardships of a cold winter.

More church and individual prayer resources for Syria Peace Talks.

*Name has been changed to protect identity.

Photo above: Lebanon camp, photographer: Eleanor Bentall / Tearfund

Providing Lifeline for Syrian Refugees

Providing Lifeline for Syrian Refugees – 7 Jan 2014

Eight months ago, Ziyad (43) was working as a nurse in the Syrian city of Dara’a which is on the frontline of his country’s civil war.

Each day he saw injured civilians and fighters being brought to the hospital where he worked and each day he faced the challenge of treating people when there weren’t enough medical supplies to go round.

As the security position in Dara’a deteriorated and threats started to be made against him, Ziyad took his family and fled across the nearby border to Jordan.

Unlike many, they have a proper roof over their heads as they’re living in a two-room apartment but life in general, and paying the rent in particular, is a constant struggle.

A Tearfund partner is supplying Ziyad and his family with the only aid they have received – mattresses, blankets and food.

Thanks to generous support for Tearfund’s Syria appeal, Ziyad’s family has received three distributions of household items and the aid is proving invaluable when there is no other help on offer.

When asked how he deals with his family’s troubles caused by the conflict, Ziyad simply replied: ‘I have to stay strong for my family.’

But he is praying too, praying that peace will return to Syria and he is hoping that the Geneva peace talks between the two warring sides that are scheduled for January will be successful.

Tearfund is working with partners in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan bringing life-sustaining aid in the form of:

  • food
  • hygiene kits
  • blankets
  • mattresses
  • warm clothing
  • stoves
  • help to pay for accommodation
  • psycho-social support for traumatised children

The UN estimates three-quarters of Syria’s population of 22 million people will require humanitarian aid in 2014.

Syria’s civil war has claimed more than 100,000 lives, displaced 6.5 million people within the country and led to 2.2 million becoming refugees in neighbouring countries such as Lebanon and Turkey, half of them being children.

Please give to our Syria appeal.

Featured Photo: Eleanor Bentall/Tearfund, Zaatari camp, Jordan, home to approximately 124,000 Syrian refugees. Yara (4 months) with her sister and grandmother. Name changed for security reasons.

Visiting project in Malawi

Visiting project in Malawi – 13 Dec 2013

During his visit to Malawi Markus met Doreen Chilenda (pictured right) who has been taught about conservation farming, which is locally known as “farming God’s way”. Doreen was sceptical at first, but at the end of the workshop she thought that she should give it a trial. Now she calculates the spaces before planting, uses animal manure and covers the field.

Conservation farming is about keeping the water and nutrients in the soil. She noticed that she needs 60% less fertilizer and less weed is growing on her field. Being HIV positive Doreen said she appreciates that this means less work and thus better health. She hopes for a good harvest and that in three years time she will need no fertilizer at all.

To us Doreen is a wonderful example of a great strong woman, who once given a chance improved her life by making the right choices.

Giving children of the Philippines the routine of going to school

Giving children of the Philippines the routine of going to school – 6 Dec 2013

Girly Malitante is a primary school teacher in Marabut. ‘My school is damaged from the typhoon, but we need shelter for the children to have classes. The chairs and books, pencils and pens and blackboards are all damaged.’

Giving children the routine of going to school helps recreate a sense of normality for them. While adults begin the work of rebuilding their homes and their lives, Tearfund partners are working to create safe spaces for children.

There’s a lot to do, as Girly points out. ‘We received some food and clothing from the Department of Education, and the government has said they will repair our school, but not until January. There are computers floating in the floods, and we have to boil water to drink. But we have a lot of firewood!’ she says, pointing to the rubble.

As the shock of Typhoon Haiyan wears off, and evidence of trauma is settling in, our partners are training community volunteers from local churches in Northern Samar on trauma recovery for children.

Layo Mateo, a fisherman in Basey is concerned for the wellbeing of his children. ‘Sometimes my children still get scared. Now, even the level one typhoon warnings scare us.’

It might take time to rebuild schools. Nevertheless our partners are creating places for children where they can play, make things, and express their emotions with on-site care providers. Through our work in Samar, we’re making sure that children suffering acute trauma can be treated by Filipino psychologists to receive the level of care that they need.

Tearfund partners are working for long-term recovery in the Philippines.

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