Our Stories

Kossegui shows that things can be done differently.

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Kossegui Ganigi is a farmer from Guinagourou, Benin. She has two daughters and is taking care of her sister’s baby, as her sister died in childbirth. Kosseguis’s dream is that all girls in the village can go to school and all women can give birth safely. She has found her own way to bring the people in her village into achieving this dream.

“I am convinced that it is possible if the women of Guinagourou get involved together. But nobody wants to believe me. They think it’s a strange dream and can’t imagine it,” Kossegui said.

For a year, Kossegui woke up an hour earlier every day and went door-to-door around her village to try and make her neighbours understand the importance of her vision. They remained cynical, however she knew she couldn’t achieve her vision on her own. She needed their involvement.

She came up with a new plan.

“I manage to save 15 cents a day from my fish business. With that I can build the first stone house in the village after a year. Everyone wants a stone house, but the neighbours also think that it is not for our kind of people.

“If I have a stone house, they will see that things can be done differently. And then they will also start moving. Just wait,” Kossegui said.

Invest now in changemakers like Kossegui to do things differently and transform their lives.

Courageous Shania stopped her own child marriage.

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“I know the consequences of child marriage. [From The Hunger Project, we also] learnt about the evils of drugs, as well as changes during adolescence. Knowing all of this has given me the courage to protect myself against early marriage. I was able to convince my parents. My marriage is over. Now I can realise my dream of becoming a teacher.”

The Hunger Project runs programs such as Youth Ending Hunger in schools in rural Bangladesh. Shania is in year 9 at school and lives in the Naogaon district 

In parts of Bangladesh that are very poor, many families struggle to afford to send their children to school. Because boys tend to be valued more than girls, parents typically pull out girls from school and marry them off, even before the legal age of 18. COVID-19 has compounded an already bad situation: the UN Population Fund estimates an additional 13 million child marriages will occur between 2020-2030 due to the pandemic. 

Shania usually rides a bicycle to school. The people of the village did not approve of her behaviour, so they approached her father with a marriage proposal. Shania knew that she had to do something to stop it happening. She had learnt about the negative consequences of child marriage through the Youth Ending Hunger’ program in her school – a program run by school students who have been trained by The Hunger Project tmobilise their classmates around the issue of child marriage. 

Because of this knowledge, Shania was able to talk to her parents about the consequences of child marriage, such as the health dangers of giving birth before her body was fully developed, and continuing the cycle of malnutrition for her baby. As a result, her parents helped her to stop her marriage, and she was luckily able to remain in school. 

It has never been a more critical time to empower girls to stop the harmful practice of child marriage today — invest here.

How these school students stopped child marriage.

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“I got confidence from [my training with] The Hunger Project and stopped my early marriage.” — Hira, Year 10, Bangladesh.

The Hunger Project runs programs such as ‘Safe Schools for Girls’ in rural Bangladesh. In Bangladesh, two thirds of girls are married off before their 18th birthday, and 1 in 5 are married off before the age of 15. This means girls are constantly vulnerable to being married off before they’re ready. 

One day out of nowhereHira’s relatives arranged her marriage to an unemployed boy. As part of The Hunger Project’s ‘Safe Schools for Girls’ program, reproductive health training had been conducted at her school. From this training, Hira had learnt about the harmful consequences of child marriage, including the dangers of getting pregnant before the body is fully developed. In addition, The Hunger Project had shown many short educational movies in her school. One particular movie called “Kusum’s Autobiography” had left a deep impression, as she saw in the movie how child marriage destroys the life of a teenager – essentially forcing them overnight to stop being a girl and to become a wife and motherShe knew that if she were married off before the legal age of 18, then her life could end up like that too 

With this knowledge, Hira enlisted the help of the other girls and boys in The Hunger Project’s Youth Unit – a group of school students who actively work to stop child marriage for the girls at their schoolTogether, they explained the negative consequences to her family members and were successfully able to convince them to call off the marriage. 

It doesn’t have to be like this. You could invest today so that even more girls can access this program and end child marriage.

Meet Kaushalya Bisht

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Sustainability, Interconnectedness, Decentralisation.

Kaushalya Bisht is an Elected Women Representative from Uttarakhand, India, a remote region at the foothills of the Himalayas. The Hunger Project worked with her to develop the skills she needs to make change for her community as a representative through our SWEEP program (Strengthening Women’s Empowerment through Electoral Processes). As part of this program, The Hunger Project trains Elected Women to read, write, speak and lead the political agenda to improve education, health, and nutrition in their villages.

Uttarakhand is the only state in India where village communities come together to protect and nurture their forests by forming forest councils. The forests are a lifeline for women. They provide wood for them to build their houses, dry wood for fires and fodder for their cattle. Ensuring the sustainability of the forests is crucial for survival in the village.

However, in Kaushalya’s village, they hadn’t held elections for the forest council in 15 years.

“We formed a collective of 30 women and decided to revive the forest elections,” Kaushalya said.

“My team of women patrolled the forests. We didn’t allow anyone to cut down the trees. Together, we planted 100,000 trees. We take care of the forests like we do our own children.”

During her term as an Elected Women Representative, Kaushalya made 45,000 kg of paddy seeds available to the farmers and distributed 300 tree samplings to encourage the people in her village to grow trees. For the women in her village, 80% of their farms are across the other side of the river, which means the women have to walk a long distance to their farms. Kaushalya secured the building of a bridge by taking the matter to her village council. She also took action to prevent soil erosion by building 11 check dams (small dams built to reduce water flow velocity) by the river.

“I want my village to continue thriving.”

Kaushalya continues to shape a legacy of protecting the environment and ensuring sustainable change for future generations in her community.

Invest in women like Kaushalya to bring transformation to villages in India here.

 

Meet Mr. Henderson

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We met Mr. Henderson on the Unlock Leadership Immersion Program in Malawi in November 2019.  

 Mr Henderson is 22 years old and is from Nsondole Epicentre. After receiving training from an Animator (local volunteer leader) trained by The Hunger Project, Mr Henderson began planting seeds in his garden.  

 Now, he proudly grows beans, peas, Chinese vegetables and tomatoes. Mr Henderson also sells the surplus vegetables that he has grown so that he can earn an income.  

“I planted different varieties, so it gives my family different nutrients. Now I don’t need to buy vegetables from other people”, he said.  

Mr. Henderson has also become a Nutrition Animator because he is passionate about passing on what he learnt to other community members including how to grow your own nutritious food and how to make compost manure.  

Mr Henderson’s garden acts as a demonstration for his neighbours and community that they too, can transform their lives.    

Meet Jessie.

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Jessie is 41 years old and lives in the Nsondole community in Malawi. Jessie and her husband have five children.

“My number one vision is to educate my children,” she says.

Jessie has been receiving farm input loans from The Hunger Project since 2017. With these loans, she has been able to purchase seeds to grow maize and rice which she can use to feed her family. She then sells any leftover produce at the market. With the money they made selling their produce at the market, Jessie and her husband invested in a sewing machine, which her husband used to set up a tailoring business.

With two incomes to support them, everyone in the family now has three meals a day. Now, Jessie’s goal is to buy a motorcycle so her family can get around much more easily.

“My household is doing much better now. We are practising new planting methods and special farming methods so now my family doesn’t have to live in hunger and I can send my children to school.”

Meet Cheikh Diouf.

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Originally published by The Hunger Project Nederland

Cheikh Diouf from Ndié has been a member of the grain bank at Ndereppe Epicentre, Senegal, since the start of 2006. He has also become a member of the newly established farmers’ association. This has enabled him to provide his family with enough food.

“I have learnt and improved on my sowing technique and get good seeds from the grain bank. The yield from my country has increased enormously! I now harvest a greater amount with less time investment and less land. I used to grow millet on four hectares of land — now I only need two hectares. On the remaining two hectares I can grow peanuts and beans, some for my family and some for sale. ”

Cheikh Dioud, member of the grain bank - Senegal - Ndereppe - Johannes Odé - 300x300In his house, Cheikh has six barrels of millet — a few in the storehouse and a few in the bedroom.

“I have enough supplies at home to feed my family. I have two women, nine children and many grandchildren living with me. One barrel, which holds 250 kilos, can last three months. With the six we have enough millet to get through the year! I don’t have to buy millet at the grain bank, but it is good that this facility is present for others. ”

As an Animator (local volunteer leader) with The Hunger Project, Cheikh provides information about sowing techniques and food security to his fellow villagers. He is also a member of the food security village committee.

“Being a member of the grain bank has enabled so much for me. I no longer have any problems feeding my family. My fellow villagers and I have more knowledge about agriculture, and the village has gained a greater sense of community and solidarity.”

Bizuhaye Terefe Goes Back to School

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Originally published by The Hunger Project Nederland.

In the North Shoha region of Ethiopia, The Hunger Project is actively working with the Her Choice alliance to end of child marriages and enabling girls to re-enrol in school. Often, these are girls who have dropped out of school after a child marriage or teenage pregnancy. The Hunger Project empowers girls so that they can finish their education and transform their situations for themselves and their children.

Bizuhaye Terefe, 19 years old, lives in the village of Wujiba with her aunt and five-year-old son, Abity. She has been going back to school for two years now.

Bizuhaye is happy that she can go back to school after she had to leave when she was just 13 years old.

“When I was 13, I was raped and then I got pregnant. That was a very nasty experience. I’m still sad about that,” Bizuhaye says. “Because I was expecting, I had to quit school — that’s how it works here. I was living with my grandmother at the time because my mother had died a year earlier. After Abity was born, I lived with grandma for a while, but she could no longer care for us. Fortunately my aunt, Genzeb, then took us in.”

Image credit: Johannes Ode

The Hunger Project started the Her Choice program in the region two years ago. They empower and run activities for girls who left school too early to give them the chance to go back to school. Like Bizuhaye, these girls are usually married early or pregnant.

“I was visited by the school director, asking if Bizuhaye wanted to come back to school. Of course I wanted to help her, but I had no money for pens, notebooks, uniform and other school supplies. The Hunger Project then took care of that so Bizuhaye could go back to school!” says Genzeb.

Bizuhaye says, “I really enjoy going back to school. My favourite subject is English. My dream is to become a pilot later, that seems great. I can therefore earn a lot of money and help my family. If I later become a pilot and my future husband has a busy job, I want to plan the arrival of even more children. I certainly want to have four children, but I want to be ready for it. Abity can then become a big brother. It will take a while before the time comes. First I want to finish high school and study. And my son will also go to school from next year. “

Stella’s Story.

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We will never forget the look on Stella’s face when she described having no choice but to marry off her 14-year old grand-daughter, Emilida, to keep the other three children in her care alive. Stella’s eyes were heavy. The shame she felt was etched on her face. No choice. What would you do? Save three children or potentially lose four?

Stella’s daughter and son-in-law had died of HIV and Stella had taken on the care of their children. Suddenly, she had four children she couldn’t afford to raise.

Stella’s grand-daughter, Emilida, was married off at 14 to a man twice her age. One day, while Emilida was at the markets, she was approached by two Women’s Empowerment Animators (local volunteer leaders) trained by The Hunger Project. The Animators asked Emilida why she wasn’t at school and why she was so dirty. After confiding in them about her marriage, the Animators and Emilida returned to her Grandmother’s house and spoke to her about the negative impact of child marriage and the importance of education. The group decided that it was time to take action.

They went to the village chief and had Emilida’s marriage annulled.

The Women’s Empowerment Animators empowered Stella with the knowledge and resources she needed to transform her family’s life. Now, Stella farms maize and sells firewood to earn an income. She re-enrolled Emilida in school and is an advocate for girls education.  Stella has also become a Women’s Empowerment Animator, so that she can empower other women and girls in her community.

Emilida’s vision is to one day become a teacher so that, she too can empower others through education.

This is not a story of despair. This is a story of hope, courage, transformation and possibility for the future. Leadership is not about having influence or power. Leadership is having a clear vision and having the determination, courage and passion to achieve it.

Find out more about our Leadership Immersion Programs.

International Day of the Girl 2019

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Today is International Day of the Girl. Here at The Hunger Project, we’re celebrating the unscripted and unstoppable girls who are ending hunger around the world.

Meet Bonani

In the Bagherhat District of Bangladesh, Bonani is a young girl who attends high school. 

In many parts of Bangladesh, girls are denied an education. Continuing beyond primary school to high school is limited to those families who can afford it. Many families like Bonani’s often make a choice between sending their girls to school or marrying them off at a young age. Early marriage is often seen as the right decision. As a result, many girls are pulled out of school and never return.   

Even for those girls like Bonani, who do get to continue their studies, there are other barriers. Where Bonani lives, there were no toilets at schools for girls to use. This meant that she would have to stay home when she was menstruating. At other times she developed bladder issues from not being able to use a toilet all day at school. Because of this, she missed one week per month of schooling. 

“Boys get many advantages, why not girls? We are all created equal. Girls need more support when they go through physical and mental changes,” Bonani says. 

 The Hunger Project runs programs such as the Safe Schools for Girls in rural communities in Bangladesh. Safe Schools for Girls increases girls’ attendance in school including by getting toilets for girls installed. To date, more than 30,000 students have participated in the program.  

“I joined a group in my school because I like to learn things and spread awareness among others. I like social activities such as dancing and acting, and I also learned that girls like me could have a say. So now I advocate for girls’ toilets and changerooms to be installed in schools, and for boys to stop harassing girls especially on the way to and from school.”  

Today, Bonani is a proud advocate for getting girls’ toilets installed in local schools. She is also an active member of her school community, advocating to stop harassment and child marriage and encouraging her peers to stay in school.   

“It would be better to get married at 30, after getting an education and a job. I like to help other people and society. In the future I want to serve my country through social work or becoming a doctor,” she says. 

Invest in programs like Safe Schools for Girls here.