Christina Banda and Mary Chafuta are just one and a half years into Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) membership but the period and the stories told are totally different. They are experiencing positive changes in their personal and family life beyond imagination within that short time.
Christina, 32 years of age, is married to Yolamu Banda and together they have three children. Since they became husband and wife, many decisions were being influenced by the husband only – be it on what type of food to eat or whether there is need to spend the money and how they relied solely on him.
“I used to be a beggar in my own home. I had no ideas of how to relieve my husband from the burden of looking after our family and looking to him no matter how small the decision was. But today the story is different. I am strong and can stand up to some issues both financially and decision-wise,” explained Christina who was at this time standing behind her business bench trying to sell some tomatoes to her customers.
Just like Christina, Mary is also a mother of three children and is married to an employee of an agricultural produce trader. As a wife and a mother who was just staying at home waiting for her husband to provide for the house, she could not come to terms with her husband when it came to issues to deal with money. She thought her husband was not providing enough for the family but realistically she was pretty aware that the wages for her husband are peanuts.
“I knew beyond reasonable doubt that he was not pocketing more money from his work, but both of us had no ideas of how to assist each other even when Join My Village was first being introduced in our village. I have been seeing fellow women meeting and transacting VSLA business and had to prejudge that they were just wasting their time – a thing I am regretting because I joined late,” narrated Mary who is a second hand cloth seller at Santhe trading. She is very proud that since she joined VSLA, her husband has been supportive. She started by selling frozen water in a small plastic papers measuring 250 mls each. The profits realized were being saved every week. When she received her shares amounting MK42,000.00 (US$140) in February this on a sharing out day, she sat down with her husband and decided to venture in business of selling second hand clothes which today she enjoys and can manage to buy full shares in a VSLA meeting.
Women do not benefit only with saving and getting loans when they become VSLA members. They also discuss issues affecting them and their families. They share experiences of family life and community togetherness. What was usually seen as a problem in their homes is no longer a problem because there are solutions through being members of VSLA.
It is the peace of mind and the feeling of being respected by their husbands that brings happiness to these two women. They know that now their decisions are being recognized and they can complement their husband in generating income for the household. While Mrs. Mary sees herself becoming an international trader on assorted items, Christina dreams of owning a big shop someday. Our women are now thinking beyond their imagination powered by VSLA.