“I threw myself in front of a moving car, hoping to end it all.”
These words just hung in the air. The speaker had my immediate and full attention as the passion and pain in her voice reverberated through the small room. We sat circled up, listening to stories from a handful of members from Gergi Church’s savings group, but we weren’t prepared for this one.
We had told ourselves to be patient.
Results from savings groups are slow and incremental.
Look for evidence of a positive trajectory.
This is going to take time.
We can’t expect to see transformation in less than two years in the program.
But those thoughts all came prior to meeting Zeritu, a widowed mother of two, whose story stunned us.
“When my husband fell ill, I had no answers. I didn’t know what to do to provide for myself and my family. I was hopeless.”
When her suicide attempt failed, other members of the World Orphans savings group recognized the need and desperation of this widow who suddenly felt completely hopeless. The women were able to relate to her fear, her hopelessness, and her desire for a way out of her current circumstances; therefore, they invited her to attend their savings group, hoping that she would find encouragement, empowerment, and support like they did. What happened next is nothing short of amazing.
“When I entered the program, my children didn’t have shoes on their feet . . .”
Zeritu accepted the offer to join the savings group in early 2015. In October 2015, she received a 500 ETB loan ($25 USD). She used that loan to start a business and paid it back within one year. In June of 2016, she received a 1,000 ETB loan and repaid it quickly as well. We often hear that loan recipients pay back the loan and save approximately the same amount they were loaned, but that isn’t the case with Zeritu.
When she entered the program, she had nothing. Now, she is a successful entrepreneur with over 30,000 ETB ($1,300) saved, and she dreams of expanding her business in order to begin exporting her product globally.
When she entered the program, she was hopeless and suicidal. Now, she is the first member of the Ethiopian Home Based Care program to use our savings group and microloan program to become self-sufficient, and she will graduate out of the program by the end of the year.
“I know what it is to be hungry and have nothing, so I work.’’
When she entered the program, she was desperate and hungry. Now, she is teaching others in the program her secrets to success and willingly giving up her spot in the program to provide space for another family to have the opportunity to benefit from the same programs that allowed her to transform her life.
From hopeless to successful.
From hungry to overflowing.
From a sad story to a role model.
From helpless to the helper.