“Promoting a savings program to a man with no job or any source of income is like a slap in the face”, shares Paulino Dhal, a 35-year old father of seven.
“Waking up every morning with no idea how to provide for your family was a pain. I wake up very early ahead of the children and go to the market to avoid looking at their sad and hungry faces. I did this for years”, he says.
According to Paulino, he depended on his brother to take care of his two wives and children. “Whenever my brother had nothing to share, we slept hungry. In 2020, my prayers were answered through World Vision.”
The savings for transformation (S4T) groups came into being through the Food Security and Resilience in Transitioning Environments (FORESITE) Project.
The S4T aims to serve as a platform to promote culture of savings and discussion of personal and household resilience among members and the development of positive coping strategies and plans to respond to shocks.
In Gogrial East County and neighbouring areas, you are either a farmer or a cattle keeper. Like Paulino, many have no resources and struggle to feed their families.
He says, “I was not interested to join S4T at first because how can a man with nothing think of saving. I kept attending the training but in my heart there was no hope. I am a farmer, but I helplessly watched my family face hunger due to lack of seeds.”
The savings program is low cost, community-led, owned and managed by the members using simple, transparent method that accumulate and convert small amounts of cash into savings.
“After the training, World Vision also enrolled us on the cash-for-asset activities to stabilize our livelihoods. We received US$45 monthly for three successive months, and then provided seeds and tools”, Paulino adds.
With the support, Paulino have something to wake up to and found time to spend with his family. From the small grant contribution of SSP150,000 to the group, each member contribute SSP2000 monthly as their savings.
“I am fully aware now of the significance of savings because as a member, we are free to take loans and payback with a 20 percent interest. The group generates 30% interest from the loans acquired by none members”, Paulino shares. The project provides different types of trainings and material support to the groups.
“The FORESITE Project is a blessing to us. Life would have become worse than 1998 when people in this community depended on wild fruits when hunger hit us.”
Tesfu Tesfay, the Project Director explains, “A S4T group save together in a safe, convenient and flexible way. It is low cost, community-led, owned and managed by the members using simple, transparent method that accumulate and convert small amounts of cash into savings.”
Through trainings such as financial literacy, business management and marketing skills, as well as equipment support, 72 groups were strengthened with a total membership of 1,897, and women compose 1,041 of the members.
“The groups encouraged members to cultivate a savings culture, promote social solidarity, empowerment, and intra-ethnic social cohesion”, Tesfay concludes.
Story and photos by Scovia Faida Charles Duku, Communications Coordinator with inputs from Tesfu Tesfay, Project Director