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Thursday, August 15, 2013

How 6 Steps Led to Self Help Groups in Ethiopia

When Obse Tolesa, a 25 year old widow from the Oromia Region in Ethiopia, lost her husband, she was left to care for herself and their 4 children; with no source of income.

She knew she had to do something but she didn’t know what, until she discovered one of our self help groups.

The groups, help women like Obse form strong bonds with other women in similar situations, receive skills training, and gain access to low-interest loans that enable them to farm, raise livestock, and start businesses.

Obse’s journey toward self reliance, like many other women, began by becoming involved in creating her own solutions.

The first step was to uncover the root issues. Women like Obse are clearly the most vulnerable to the growing poverty. No matter how desperately they try, the situation is often so dire that to put food on the table meant begging or even being forced into the sex trade.

Like everyone around her, Obse had dreams and aspirations for what she could be. She hoped to raise animals that she could sell at the market and, most of all, to become self-sufficient. Not having to worry about whether her children would survive from one day to the next was her goal.

Obse and others in the community came together and began discussing a long-term vision for how they could create a sustainable income, grow more food, and improve opportunities for their children.

The vision needed to fit their situation and they had to be able to grow and maintain it. They built teams and, as a cooperative, they began to support one another through low-interest microloans. Generous friends of HOPE International Development Agency provided the initial funds and the groups voted on how to lend them out.

We provided Obse and the other groups with training on how to manage the funds, how to run the group in a way that members felt was fair, and how to pass the knowledge on to others.

As the women began to flourish and earn more income, they would pay back their loans and eventually help other groups of women.

Our role was to provide the initial funding, the training, and the process that women like Obse needed to create a new life for her family that is healthy, secure, stable, and free from fear.

When we move on to other communities, we have every confidence that Obse and the groups in her region will keep growing and thriving. Once our part is done, we will leave the work in their capable hands because we know they will continue to transform their lives in incredible ways.