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Friday, February 23, 2018

More than Water. More than Money. Meet Aragesh.

Aragesh Kantifo (shown holding one of her children in photo) is a 20-year-old married mother of two children. This month HOPE International Development Agency colleagues and supporters visited her community of Kamale Barrye-Oro in southern Ethiopia. While there, they met Aragesh and heard a little bit of her story.

Late last year, construction of a gravity-fed spring cap water system was completed at high point above Aragesh’s community. As a result, community members now obtain clean water from taps at various water points conveniently located within the community.

There has been immediate improvement in health outcomes for the people living in Kamale Barrye-Oro, especially among the children. Many families have already attended training sessions where they’ve learned about good practices in the areas of health, hygiene, and sanitation.

And there is more. Over the past 4 months, 11 women’s self-help groups have been formed. Aragesh is a member of one of the groups and serves as its secretary. The women meet weekly to contribute to the group savings fund, share experiences, learn to solve common problems together, and learn about ways to start small businesses. The group savings fund has become a financial resource from which group members can borrow.

Recently, Aragesh took out her first loan of 200 Ethiopian birr, an amount equivalent to approximately $10 CAD. She used the loan to start a small business making a local beverage and bread which she sells café style outside her home. She plans to pay off the loan within two months, along with 10% interest. Once that is done she plans to take out a second, larger loan to expand her business.

Aragesh explained that until now she had never heard of the idea of saving money or investing in a business to earn a living. She spoke with great pride about being able to contribute to her household and support her children. She exuded incredible joy and confidence as she spoke with her visitors.

More than water. More than money. Aragesh has hope for her future and for that of her children.