I am Akhtar Bibi, a MEDA Pakistan client for the past 3 years. I hail from the village of Pandatwal in the district of Kasur. Accustomed to rising early, I am usually up and running by the time the sun sneaks past the horizon. A strong cup of tea provides me with the necessary morning kick as I start the process of milking my cows, something that I have been doing for many years.
Asrese Lemma, 52, is a farmer in Ethiopia’s Libo Kemkem district, one of the two target areas of MEDA’s EDGET (Ethiopians Driving Growth, Entrepreneurship and Trade) project. She has five children under the age of 18. Three are in school and two help their mother in daily activities at home.
Unlike here in the US, in Afghanistan children start working at an early age. Hamid is a 12 year old boy, who works as a shop apprentice for a construction shop. There are three other boys who work with him. His family is quite poor – they rent a one-room house, and only he and his older brother work, supporting eight family members.
Bernadette Valomé used to live and work in Petionville, Haiti in a large house with beautiful flower gardens. After the 2010 earthquake, she was called back to the Avenue Poupelard neighbourhood to assist her mother. She grew up in the neighbourhood and fondly remembers a big open park with trees where people could go and sit in the shade and feel the breeze.
Leo is a taxi driver living in Managua, Nicaragua and has been working at his trade for 15 years. He knows every speed bump, pot hole, over-turned stone and congested street in the city and has even managed to master the difficult directional system that Nicaraguan's proudly stand by.
Esma Khalilova- Chairperson of Umyut Cooperative
Lives in: Belagorsk region of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.
Client since: 2010
Status: Married with two grown children
Main Crops: Medicinal Herbs
Other Sources of Income: Medicinal Herb Consolidator
Before the Project:
Esma Khalilova and her family came to Crimea as asylum-seekers from Uzbekistan. Poor and lacking economic opportunity, their situation was further hindered by the discrimination they faced for their Crimean Tatar heritage. Despite these conditions, Esma started the Cooperative Umyut, which means, "Hope". Now, not only is Esma the chairperson of Umyut, she is also one of the main medicinal herb consolidators in the region.
In the rural areas of Amhara, rice farmers live a hand-to-mouth existence. Having enough money to afford inputs for farming, school and household expenditures, particularly before harvest time is a significant challenge. Farmers are often forced to sell rice during harvest season when prices are low, which endangers their livelihood and hinders their income potential. As farmers are without savings habits, any surplus income earned following harvest is squandered at the local Saturday market on drinks. This was the previous experience of thirteen rice farmers who, with the assistance of Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA), formed a group known as Addis Alem Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA).
One woman's story of inspiration as she plants seeds of joy, prosperity and love in Haripur
By Rida Naqvi, Communications Officer, MEDA Pakistan
While Pakistan remains a rigidly patriarchal society, the rural woman confined to her four walls remains a dominant feature of the landscape. But over the years, exceptional women have emerged from their seclusion and taken the initiative to change their circumstances.
Afghanistan has been plagued by conflict and war for three decades, creating an unfortunate legacy: many of its 30 million people have few opportunities for education and employment, resulting in a low level of skills in the country’s workforce. Despite some economic gains in recent years, most Afghans continue to struggle financially, and an estimated 90% of Afghan families rely on informal employment to support themselves.
MEDA works hard to capture the impact we have on project clients and when building capacity with partner organizations, but sometimes, says Julie Redfern, vice president of financial services, “we forget we are having a significant effect on others, too.”
While at times it may seem like the challenges of working in Haiti are insurmountable, on a recent trip MEDA president Allan Sauder also saw lots of evidence of forward movement.
“I was delighted to meet Noberta Sainta, owner of Tatie's Home bakery, a woman with a big smile and dreams within her reach. She embodies the indomitable spirit that I witnessed in a country still struggling to rebuild after last year's devastating earthquake.“
Vendor thankful for support from the American people
MEDA is working with USAID in the scenic but war-torn Swat Valley in Pakistan to help 7,200 conflict-affected residents rebuild their lives after the area was overrun by the Taliban. The Entrepreneurs Livelihoods Recovery Program aims to revitalize economic activities in the region through the distribution of micro-grants and by purchasing local goods.
Young people in Morocco are starting to realize their hopes and dreams through MEDA’s YouthInvest program. In one year, 1,480 youth have completed the program’s 100 Hours to Success, which provides training in life skills, financial skills and entrepreneurship. Another 700 are now enrolled in the program.
MEDA is helping to give birth to a small economic revolution in a corner of South Asia’s “embroidery belt” through a three-year $1.2 million project in mountainous northern Balochistan, one of the most remote and impoverished areas of Pakistan.