Hawawu Issahaku lives with her husband and two young sons in the community of Goh in northern Ghana. The villagers live in mud brick homes surrounded by lush farm fields; a dirt road links to other communities.
Hawawu's home is well kept, the courtyard swept, her kitchen fireplace carefully cleaned, the clay water pot full. There are signs of industry everywhere – a flock of chickens, goats, rabbits in an enclosure. Drying in the courtyard are the shea nuts Hawawu has gathered; shea trees grow wild across the scrub land of northern Ghana.
Hawawu, like many other women, collects the fruit, then boils and dries the nuts for sale to a commercial processor. She also processes them herself into butter for use in home cooking or for sale at the local markets. With her husband, Hawawu farms maize, millet, beans and groundnuts. During the dry season, she makes and sells charcoal to bring additional cash into the household.
Her sons are six and two years old. She hopes they can go to school, but while there is a school building in Goh, the community is so isolated that no teacher is willing to live and teach there. Hawawu worries about what opportunity her sons will have for education.
Hawawu has joined MEDA's GROW (Greater Opportunities for Women) project because she wants to learn more about growing soybeans, how to use them to improve the diet of her family and where she can sell them profitably. This is the first time she has joined a women's group and she is excited about working together with others in her community.
GROW is aimed at improving food security for farmers in northern Ghana by helping women increase availability, access and use of nutritious food. The six-year project, funded by Global Affairs Canada and MEDA supporters, will reach out to 20,000 women and their families.