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When we first met Louise five years ago, she shared with us how The Hunger Project had given her the confidence to be a leader in her community. Thanks to a microfinance loan, she had just started a business selling fruit, corn and peanuts and had big dreams for the future.

Five years on, when we arrive in the village of Dotan, Louise is waiting for us with her women’s group. They are dancing and singing when they meet us.

“I have become much more independent. My life has expanded, with the support of The Hunger Project. Before, I mainly traded in corn, now I also have a shop with homewares and clothes.”

Louise is also a volunteer health leader for her community. If residents have concerns about their treatment at the health post, they talk to Louise. She makes sure that their concerns are addressed.

“I give advice on the importance of family planning. I help deliver polio vaccines provided by the government. I’m also active in a committee that monitors the work of the public health post.”

Louise’s incredible work doesn’t stop there. She has taught more than 80 women in her village to read and write, to ensure that everyone can become socially independent like she is.

“I teach a small group of women to read and write. I would love to help all these women to achieve what they want, to realise their dreams. In this way our community advances.”

“In five more years I hope to be living with my children in a new, bigger house… I want to expand my business even more. I am also going to buy additional farmland to farm maize with the help of seasonal workers. The income from this will be my retirement plan, for the future when I can not work anymore.”

Story from Mariken Stolk.