Our focus for 2023 is on enhancing women’s well-being:
- Gathering them into self-help groups.
- Improving their social and financial lives.
- Reducing their back-breaking water-carrying work.
A preliminary Community Needs Survey revealed that 40% of Maji District families are women-led.
It is a subsistence farming community, and since women traditionally do not own oxen or plow, they usually do not have land. If they have been able to retain land, they rent or share-crop. This reduces their economic standing and leaves them and their children at risk for hunger and lack of education.
To address the needs of these struggling women, MDC is embracing the concept of Women’s Self-Help Groups—women who gather in a group to learn together, save money together, and eventually support each other to individually or together begin income-producing activities.
MDC sent the Maji District’s Coordinator for Women’s and Children’s Affairs and support staff for orientation in self-help group work. They came back saying that the transformation they saw in women’s lives must be called a miracle.
As everyone warned us, the most difficult part of the work of organizing women is helping them understand the amazing way group solidarity works.
MDC and women’s leaders worked for over a year on this stage before one group started meeting regularly, organized, saved and then registered as a co-op. They doubled the revolving fund grant from MDC by fattening lambs and raising onions to sell in the local market.
Observing them, another group of women, got serious about organizing themselves and saving their small deposits of money. Then three more groups began their formation process. Each group impacts the lives of twenty women and families—we can’t keep doubling the numbers forever, but we are hopeful that the benefits of self-help group work will become more and more clear, and more groups will take root and grow.