She is not the only person whose life was at a standstill. The reasons might be different but the effects are almost similar. Little did the women know that the coming in of Join My village would help them unlock fortunes and bring new directions to their lives and that of their families.
Agnes Banda and her husband Nelson Kantogo, a polygamist, have three children and as a family they have been struggling with the thought of providing for their children’s welfare.
But just three months after Join My Village was launched in Kasungu, in July 2009, an idea struck Agnes’s mind. She joined Yankho Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) along with other women in her village so as to improve the welfare of her children, bearing in mind that her husband would not afford the needs of two wives and their children.
“We had two children when he married the second wife, and being the first wife I had no peace in my mind because even to him it was like a burden more than we could bear. I decided to join Yankho VSLA even though he was in disagreement and started borrowing from the savings of the group,” said Agnes who was comfortably seated on a sofa in an iron roofed house. She says when she received her share of the savings, which amounted to Kwacha 14,250 (about US$95) in 2010, she bought 5 bags of fertilizer and took some money to help cover some medical expenses for her husband who at that particular time of the year was sick and admitted at the hospital. This meant that she was the sole bread winner while also doing all the farm work.
“That time when I took a loan I used to order and sell dried fish, green maize and also set up a vegetable garden. Although the money was not enough but I still experienced some change in my welfare, I stopped begging for food and money for basic household things. My children continued to go to school without any problem,” said Agnes who lives in Kakowa Village. Agnes, who says she owes it all to VSLA, added that this year she bought some tobacco leaves with the remaining money and they fetched better prices at the Auction floors. She bought a cow, which is now pregnant, using the money she realized.
Looking steady and upbeat, her words of inspiration did not end as she went further and disclosed that she now has 15 local chickens and 9 Guinea fowls and their genesis is the buying of 4 eggs that were put on a hen to hatch.
“My husband used to deny me support for money to save, he would not even authorize me to go and participate in Village Savings and loan Association groups. But now he is at the forefront encouraging me to go and participate. I guess he has seen the great works I have contributed in the household,” narrated Agnes.
“I was suffering because I had no source of income and my marriage was almost over but it’s VSLA that has saved it. My husband has learnt by seeing and he is now a member of a VSLA groups. He even wished to contribute some money after hearing that my next share will be used to buy another cow,” explained the 32 year old lady.
VSLA is one of Join My Village’s great strategies to eradicate extreme poverty from the masses of women. Efforts by women like Agnes of Senior Group Village headman, Ching’amba, show how resolute less privileged women are to improve their own status when they find an opportunity to do so.
I went home satisfied with a thought that our women have really been empowered.