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Mrs Maureen Kuntumanji and her sister Mrs Evelyn Mtali - sisters in the Chikondi VSLA group.
Mrs Maureen Kuntumanji and her sister Mrs Evelyn Mtali - sisters in the Chikondi VSLA group.
Evelyn taking her turn to save as her sister Maureen (seated-third from left) and other members look on.
Evelyn taking her turn to save as her sister Maureen (seated-third from left) and other members look on.
Maureen Kuntumanji
Maureen Kuntumanji
Evelyn Mtali
Evelyn Mtali
Ida Mwale as a secretary of her group (2nd from Left).
Ida Mwale as a secretary of her group (2nd from Left).
Ida with her sister Vainness
Ida with her sister Vainness

Sisters in VSLA Groups

What is so encouraging and inspiring to see in my work is the whole family benefiting from the innovations, especially in our more than 240 Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) groups that Join My Village has established and trained.  But little did I know that true sisters would be in the same group – many of them.

Maureen and Evelyn are sisters who are in the Chikondi VSLA in the village of Tembwe.  They shared with me how they found themselves in one group- I was a little surprised about them being sisters until I found out more because I have been visiting this group for a while and didn’t notice this relationship on my own.  I think it is because they were being cautious with the constitution of the group and didn’t want anyone to think they would take advantage of their sisterhood to mislead the group members.

“Honestly it was not by plan or by wish that we should be in the same association. But the first group I wanted to join already had enough members and while discussing this with my sister, she told me that in their association there was still room for more members and without hesitation I joined her group”, narrated Evelyn who is 31 years old.

Evelyn is married to a primary school teacher,  Mr. Kumtumanji, and has four children – two daughters and two sons.  Maureen is married to Mr. Mtali who is a farmer in the village and they have three children -one girl and two boys.  Both families live on the same piece of land that they all bought together.

With confidence, Maureen, 34 years and older of the two, told me that it is good for sisters to be in the same group because they are the best advisors to each other. Maureen and Evelyn agreed that if I looked more closely, I would find more sisters in VSLA’s than I thought.

I decided to find out and went to the Tiyamike (literally meaning; let’s give thanks) association where I met Ida and Vainness Mwale. These twin sisters explained to me that they can only meet the needs of their families by joining VSLA and that having a sister in the VSLA has been good.  They do not rely on each other for their assistance because they both have their own priorities but being able to build stronger families through the VSLA is important to them both. They also make sure that their relationship does not make the others uncomfortable - Ida is the secretary in the group while Vainness remains a member.

Since then, I am noticing more sisters in the same Village Savings and Loan Association groups across Kasungu.  And the most important thing is that these women create a change in their family’s lives and build a stronger community by knowing each other and being part of the VSLA.