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Africa

Three Epicentres reach self-reliance targets

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Three Epicentres in Africa have declared self-reliance – meaning the communities have demonstrated the confidence, capacity and skills to act as agents of their own development… an amazing achievement.

Mesqan Epicentre in Ethiopia –  An outstanding example of the progress made in the community is that the prevalence of diarrhea in children under 5 decreased by 37%, to only 7% of children, thanks to work by trained volunteers to raise community awareness and increase access to safe water and sanitation. Congratulations to our partners at Mesqan Epicentre and our team in Ethiopia!

Kiboga Epicentre in Uganda –  There was an 86% decrease in the proportion of households in extreme poverty since the time of construction. Congratulations to our partners at Kiboga Epicentre and the team in Uganda!

Zakpota Epicentre in Benin  – The Zakpota community in Benin have successfully reduced hunger by 96% in the past 4 years! Congratulations to our partners at Zakpota Epicentre.

When people are empowered to become the solution to their own problems they emerge as courageous, innovative, leaders who create sustainable and lasting changes in their communities.

Image credit: Johannes Odé

Meet Alawatu

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Alawatu is a midwife in her local health clinic in the Coki village of Boffel.

Before The Hunger Project health clinic was established in Boffel, Alawatu had to deliver babies in people’s homes with no medical facilities or specialty care available to help her. Many women and babies died as a result. The health clinic has resulted in a dramatic drop in maternal deaths, to the point they have almost been eliminated completely!

Alawatu now provides pre-natal care to women in the clinic. When they’re ready to give birth, she then travels with them – by horse and cart – to the nearest hospital. If they go into labour on the journey, she is able to assist them in the delivery of their baby. When they arrive at the hospital they receive any extra medical care they need in order to keep themselves and their babies healthy.

After the women have given birth, Alawatu takes them back to the clinic in Boffel where she cares for them until they are ready to go home. The new mothers and babies get a check-up visit every Monday by staff from the clinic and The Hunger Project organises community discussions, cooking demonstrations and talks on various health, sanitation and hygiene issues.

 

Meet Ndeye

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Taking part in workshops run by The Hunger Project got Ndeye Ndiaye thinking about her future. She had learned to read and write in school and had also taken literacy classes but she had never been inspired to put her skills into action. When she was mentored by Coumba – a Hunger Project animator (trained volunteer) and strong leader in the community – Ndeye began to realise her own potential as a leader and entrepreneur.

She said, “I had my mind opened about leadership, my role at work and in entrepreneurship – and that’s when I started thinking about my future.”

Ndeye started her own dressmaking business, where she employs her 3 brothers to make made-to-measure clothes for the local community. They make up to 20 dresses per week and many people now shop exclusively with them.

Through the success of her business, she makes enough profit to take care of her family and to work on her vision of setting up a training centre for women to learn tailoring skills.

Ndeye has now been trained as a Women’s Empowerment Animator through The Hunger Project and she is committed to inspiring women and girls to get an education so they too can become productive contributors to their community. She plans to buy more sewing machines so she can employ more people to work with her.

Bienvenu’s success inspiring his community

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For many years Bienvenu and his wife Justine have been farming chickens, turkeys and rabbits.  After attending workshops at Zakpota Epicentre in Benin, they learned how to expand their business.  They have applied for credit from the bank and have since purchased more poultry and the necessary food to provide for their livestock.

“I already knew everything about poultry farming,’ says Bienvenu, ‘but my workshops in the Epicentre in Zakpota increased my knowledge in that area. So now, I know even better what my chickens and other animals need to stay healthy. I also learned to read, write and do my own book-keeping. I know what my company is about and through my improved understanding of accounting, I am better able to grow with it.”

Bienvenu has bought a larger farm and he has built barns to keep more chickens.  He has two permanent employees and hires casual staff when he needs help with the construction of his barns. He is already thinking about expanding further, so he can save money by growing food for his livestock himself.

“I need 500,000 cfa (approx. $1,175AUD) of credit per year, especially for the feed of my poultry. If I can grow that food myself, I’m one step further. I now earn net 2.1 million cfa (approx. $4,940 AUD) per year. I make the most of my profits during the holidays when people come to buy chickens and turkeys. I sell the eggs throughout the year… It is my goal to eventually become so big that I can deliver to catering. “

I make sure my animals have enough space in the barns, so that they stay healthy and I can continue to deliver quality. I now have 5,000 birds (including 3,500 chickens, 250 turkeys, 1,000 guinea fowl, 250 ducks and 100 rabbits. In the future, I want to grow to at least 12,000 poultry. “ Bienvenu’s extraordinary vision and business skills have earned him awards and visits from local politicians. He hopes to attract more visitors to the region through his work, and thus stimulate more economic activities.

People in his community are inspired by his abilities and subsequent success.  He is a big thinker who likes to share the knowledge and skills he learned with other farmers in his village.  He employs young people on internships and is happy that others are benefitting from his success.

‘HIV Animators’ reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa

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According to UNAIDS, more than 36 million people in the world are living with HIV/AIDS. It is estimated that half of those people are unaware of their HIV status.

In order to stop the spread of the disease, reduce the incidence of related deaths and remove stigma, it is essential that effective educational programs are widely accessible.

In Africa, our Epicentre programs trained over 91,000 people in 2016 to understand HIV/AIDS and gender inequality issues. Through this training, village leaders like Alesia from Ghana (pictured), gain the knowledge and confidence required to reach out to people in their communities, encouraging them to seek help in the form of testing and treatment.

Alesia, and her fellow ‘HIV Animators’, run workshops within their communities where they educate people about the causes and effects of the disease. They explain how gender inequalities fuel HIV infection rates and how HIV/AIDS can not only be treated but also prevented. ‘HIV Animators’ empower people with the understanding that they can put an end to the spread of the disease within their own communities.

The UN General Assembly holds a vision of moving toward ‘zero new infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS related deaths’. By providing education, prevention strategies and treatment in highly affected communities we move closer to this vision. We see attitudes toward the disease change, stigma dissolve and a decrease in newly infected people.

Louise Langi – Helping women of Benin realize their dreams

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Louise Langi is a 42-year-old woman from Benin, who is committed to helping women in her village realise their dreams.  Louise and her husband farm and deal in fruit, corn and peanuts to provide for their 6 children.

Through The Hunger Project’s Vision, Commitment, Action (VCA) workshops – Louise has learned financial literacy and healthcare skills that she uses to empower women of her village to create better lives for themselves and their families.

She was elected by her community to lead the Women’s Credit Group because she is a powerful communicator with strong ideas and vision for the future.

She helps to distribute credit made available through the bank and advises women on how to run more effective trades. She calls the women of her group together twice a month to discuss the issues they face in their trades and how they can overcome them. She takes great pride in representing their interests and uses the meetings as an opportunity to pass on other valuable information learned through her VCA training, such as;
• How to prepare healthy meals for children
• The importance of good nutrition
• Disease prevention and vaccination
• Good hygiene practices

Preparing the meetings takes a lot of time and she guides those who need extra support individually. Louise runs weekly literacy classes, where they can learn to read and write, and feels great joy from seeing the women, and her wider community, develop.

“In the VCA workshops I have learned to have more confidence and my whole attitude has changed. I also learned to read and write in the literacy course of the Epicentre. I want to pass on that knowledge.  That is why I also give a group of women a weekly lesson in reading and writing. I would like to accompany all these women to achieve what they want. To realize their dreams…This way we will continue together as a community!”

Before her involvement with The Hunger project, Louise says her voice was not heard in village discussions. Now, she can communicate her ideas with confidence and is increasingly involved in other decision-making processes within her community. As a village council member, improving the health of her village and the facilities available to them is one of her priorities.

Laurinda’s Story

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Laurinda Fabião Ngovene is a resident of Djodjo village at Chokwe Epicentre in Mozambique. She has one daughter and has been invovled with The Hunger Project since 2006. She joined The Hunger Project during her first Vision, Commitment and Action workshop in her community.

Laurinda moved into leadership roles in the community, serving as the head of the microcredit bank where she was in charge of distributing loans. She has also taken on the task of being a leader at the Epicentre’s Water and Environmental Sanitation program. She even served as a board member of the Rural Bank in Chokwe.

Laurinda says The Hunger Project’s programs have helped her empower her community to become sustainable. She has benefited from the Agriculture Loan Revolving Fund where local farmers access seed and fertilizer loans at the start of the planting season. She uses the fund to produce corn, beans and vegetables at the association’s farm.

The income from her agricultural activity has made significant improvements in her life. With the first credit she received, she bought a cow. Six years later she now has five cows that she uses for plowing in her business.

Laurinda also sees the benefits of the Epicentre’s health center that helps keep farmers healthy and thereby increases productivity. She still recognizes several challenges, such as a lack of transportation methods. As a result, she is striving to help her community acquire bicycles to facilitate carrying out mobilization activities, and a truck to carry products from the farm to market.

Post courtesy of The Hunger Project Global Office

CREATING A UNITED VISION OF SELF-RELIANCE

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The pathway to self-reliance is paved by unity, information and empowerment. When people living in hunger and poverty are inspired by a united vision of a healthier future, and when they are educated to understand how they can achieve this, the wheels of change begin to turn. When people are empowered to become the solution to their own problems they emerge as courageous, innovative, leaders who create sustainable and lasting changes in their communities.

Developing a united vision is imperative in order to achieve self-reliance. When people have grown up, only ever knowing hunger and poverty, the idea of a better life can seem impossible. By conducting workshops such as our Vision, Commitment and Action Workshops – where we reached almost 200,000 people, through 6,243 workshops, across 10 countries in 2016 – we empower our village partners to understand that a better life is possible for them.

Local volunteer leaders are trained to develop action plans aimed at driving their communities forward. They run workshops and visit people of their villages, sharing visions and educating them on issues they’re directly affected by, such as –

• Food shortage and farming – Families learn to grow food to provide for their families. Farmers learn agricultural techniques that increase their yields – including pest control and resilient crop storage through times of drought.

• Healthcare – people are encouraged to visit medical facilities for health check-ups, testing and treatment. They learn about the health conditions that affect them and how disease can not only be treated but also prevented. As such, stigmas attached to certain health conditions begin to dissolve and healthier communities emerge.

• Clean water and sanitation – people are educated to understand the importance of accessing clean water and using sanitary facilities. Village animators are empowered to approach local governments to see that toilets, water pumps and filtration systems are installed within their villages.

• Women’s equality – women are empowered with an understanding of their legal, educational, marital, reproductive and property rights. They are encouraged to stand-up for themselves (and each other) in the face of discrimination and inequality.

• Education – children (particularly girls) are encouraged to attend and stay in school longer. Families are taught to understand how taking girls out of schools limits their future opportunities and independence. Functional adult literacy programs are offered for those who missed out on early education.

• Government Partnerships – village leaders are taught to form partnerships with local and international governments, traditional leaders and other relevant authorities, in order to act on behalf of the united vision of the people.

By taking a grassroots approach – where village leaders steer the changes within their communities – widespread support is garnered. As belief systems begin to change, new ideas and behaviours arise, and positive outcomes result. Self-reliance transpires as communities continue down this path of growth and improvement at all levels.

How Louise’s life has changed in five years

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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.

2030 Leaders: A Ugandan trip of a lifetime

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Taking part in 2030 Leaders has been a very enriching process, both personally and professionally. 

It is an experience I will remember for the remainder of my life.

Over the course of our week in Uganda, we moved from place to place, visiting The Hunger Project’s Epicentres
at various stages of sustainability. I’m sure most of our group would agree that it was an emotional rollercoaster; confrontational, challenging, inspirational and raw.

We laughed and played with the children who were fascinated by us and all the strange contraptions we brought into their villages, and were heartbroken by the stories of pain, struggle and loss.

We were motivated by how far the communities had come because of their partnership with investors like you. They had initiative and creativity, yet were realistic about the road ahead.

We observed how quickly things can change when people are united and how slowly things move when they’re not. 

There was beauty, chaos, scepticism and hope and as many similarities as there were differences between our cultures to uncover.

Strange as it may seem, one of the most memorable aspects of the program – for me at least – was time spent on the minibus. From its windows, we observed life in Uganda.A young mother walking elegantly along the roadside balancing a sack of grain on her head as she sang to the numerous children wrapped to her body. Three boys taking turns to jump off a drain pipe into a lake below and an elderly woman sweeping the ground outside a well-kept home made of mud. 

On that minibus, we connected with each other, shared meals, voiced our responses, listened to stories of Africa that have been passed down through generations, sung terribly and laughed A LOT. It was our transport and a place we could untangle all the experiences lessons we were learning along the way.

Fast forward a few months since returning from the trip and it has taken some time to really understand what I learned from the experience in Uganda; the place, the people and the program. There was so much to consider coming home and a lot to digest whilst readjusting to everyday life in Australia.

The overriding lesson for me was that we as individuals are the most capable change agents in our own lives and that sustainable change starts in the mind. To effect change in a family, a community, an organisation – even an entire country – we must start with the individuals. The message is universally applicable.

To me, this is the core message of The Hunger Project and the foundation of its effectiveness across the globe. It’s the message that is saving hundreds of thousands of lives and the same message that can transform my life, your life and the community around us. For me it’s a message that will shape my life forever and an understanding gained through experience that I’m sincerely grateful for.

Fiona Dickson – 2030 Leaders participant, 2017

Find out more about 2030 Leaders or apply HERE.