Rifkatu is a mother of six living in Plateau State in Nigeria. The region her family lives in is unstable and conflict-ridden, but the peace Rifkatu most urgently needed when we met her was in her home. Rifkatu’s husband, Jonah, would hit her and threaten to sell her so he could get more goats for his farm. They could not provide enough food for their children and when they came up short at dinner time, he would be violent towards her.
Like most of the women served by Women for Women International, Rifkatu was living in poverty, unable to meet her own or her family’s needs. She attempted to start a small business but lacked the expertise and skills to save money and keep track of her earnings. Her business failed and she started begging to feed her children. This is when a neighbor stepped in and told her about WfWI’s program.
Through the program, Rifkatu learned about her health and her rights and she became more confident at home and in her community. She also learned how to start a poultry business and sustain it by earning and saving money. Through WfWI, Rifkatu joined a Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA) where women join hands to save money for emergencies, family events, or business expansions together. Each woman can contribute to the savings group’s funds and take loans out.
When they pay loans back with interest or contribute, women invest in each other’s success and practice numeracy and saving skills. This helped Rifkatu prevent her business from failing again. Utilizing the savings group, she grew her business from 20 to 60 birds.
“This program has changed my life is so many ways”, she says. “I have begun to save using the savings account instead of spending all my earnings like I did in the past.” Rifkatu’s husband also joined WfWI’s men’s engagement program where he learned about women’s rights. The program has changed his attitudes and behaviors at home.
“Jonah now sees me as a person just like himself and not some goat or property he purchased with money,” Rifkatu says. Jonah has apologized for his previous abuse and works with Rifkatu to take care of their family and provide for their needs. Rifkatu is graduating from WfWI’s program soon and
she has already made great strides in creating a stable life for herself and her family.
“I feel emotionally and psychologically happy,” She says.
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