The women of South Sudan are often referred to as part of a statistic: 1 in 7 will die during childbirth (the highest rate in the world), 48% are married between the ages of 14-19 and 92 % cannot read or write (Lacey 2013, Restive Jonglei).
Anglican International Development has got to know some of the women behind these statistics through their Manna Microfinance (MMF) program. MMF offers women the opportunity to meet in weekly groups to receive business training and, after a number of weeks, to take out a small loan which they can use to develop a business. As the business grows the women create a larger income and are able to pay back their loan and provide for their families.
They are a myriad of inspiring, hard-working and loving ladies. Here are a selection of their stories to celebrate International Women’s Day.
Mary (left) is a widow and has been running a stall in local market for 6 years. Each day she was not sure if she would make enough money to feed her children or send them to school. She heard about MMF and through weekly meetings: ‘’Manna staff taught me how to develop the business and earn extra income.‘’ She is now able to care not only for her own children but those of her brother too.
Rachel (right) and her husband have been struggling for years to make an income by selling coal. She talks about how her life has changed through MMF ‘’Previously we don’t have that knowledge of business and income generation activities. We thank the Manna Microfinance staff showing care and concern.‘’
Like many Sudanese women Elizabeth has suffered much in her life. Her family is very poor and her husband has made no effort to work or find a job. Elizabeth spent 2 years working as a school attendant but could not earn enough to feed and clothe her family of 6. One day she heard about AID’s Manna Microfinance Scheme (MMF) and quickly joined a group. Through the programme she received weekly training in business development and was soon able to take a loan. She discovered that she is a savvy business women and began to run her own shop selling goods such as oil, charcoal, onions and tomatoes. She has made all her loan repayments and her business continues to flourish. She is now more than able to feed and clothe her children.
AID’s “Honey’’ MMF group are greatly enthusiastic about and grateful for the MMF programme. Of particular encouragement to them is the Christian element of the group: ‘’Prayers unite us, Manna Money is blessed money and we pray with all our hearts because we know everything is blessed, the prayer encourages us and keeps us together.’’ Sadia Margaret.