By Tisa Banda, Communications, Zambia
13-year-old Masandu is one of the thriving members of an active children's savings group in her community in Sinakasikili area of Sinazongwe district.
She joined the savings group because she had challenges in buying school requirements.
“I had challenges buying books, shoes, and pens to support my education. I used to carry my books in a plastic bag. I did not have a school bag," says Masandu.
She would admire people in her community who are savings group members, especially when they received their ‘share outs.’ Whenever she saw others sharing their money, she would envy them and imagine how that would help her solve her own problems if she had money too.
Masandu eventually asked her parents for permission to join a savings group, and they did not object.
She says that since joining the savings group, she can now buy clothes that she never used to afford previously. She can now buy herself shoes and school requirements such as books, pens, pencils, and anything else she needs for school.
She has even started a business selling tomatoes and dried Kapenta (sardines), whose profits she puts into the savings group.
“Since joining the savings group, I can now care for my needs. I can buy shoes, clothes and school requirements. I can even buy any food I want at school, which I could never afford. I can buy myself anything at any time without bothering my parents. I will continue saving to support my education and to pay for my studies to become a nurse”, says Masandu.
She says she can also support her brothers with school requirements whenever their parents cannot so that they all complete their education. She urges other children to avoid joining savings as they are not adults.
“Saving groups are good for children because they enable us to help our parents where they cannot provide. So, I thank World Vision very much for bringing saving groups. They have transformed our lives”, she says.
Masandu is also grateful to World Vision for giving them solar lamps, which she says has really been helpful in her education journey.
“I also thank World Vision for bringing us solar lamps. I use a solar lamp to study, and I even made it to Grade 8 because of it. I have even improved in my academic work because of the solar lamps. Thank you”, she says.
Sinazongwe Area Programme Manager, Faustina Samboko, says the area has 144 saving groups, which have helped improve the livelihood of many households in the AP by providing access to village banking systems and have served as a forum for recruiting people, especially women, for development activities and also for raising funds much-needed household needs.
“The saving groups have provided people a sustainable platform for accessing savings and small loans. This has helped create resilience by enabling women and men to develop their skills and access funds to deal with domestic emergencies, personal needs, and children's needs and start income-generating activities.
Generally, women now have financial independence because of this, many people have improved livelihood and are able to provide for their basic needs such as health, nutrition and the education of their children and to invest in their livelihoods”, she says.