The Resources to Make Ayishetu’s Dream Come True

Veronica w/ rice straw to use to grow mushrooms

Ayishetu is a migrant from the north and mother of seven. She has never had any formal education since it is not culturally practiced to send females to school in the north. Like many, Ayishetu and her husband migrated south for better economic opportunities.

For a time, Ayishetu engaged in petty trading, selling fabric, foodstuff, and sometimes traveling to the north to sell. Alas, she had no access to capital to improve or expand her inventory. She poured all of her profits into caring for her children and paying their school fees; so eventually she ran out of inventory and went out of business. Presently, Ayishetu and her husband cultivate rice and maize in Atwima Boko.

After one of Self-Help’s trainees, Solomon, discovered that mushroom composting can be done very effectively using rice straw as a substrate, Self-Help’s Training Center Manager, Justice, began visiting rice farms nearby and reaching out to rice farmers he met to share this new opportunity available to them: they can now use rice straw waste to grow mushrooms. With relatively little startup capital, they can generate additional income to support their families. Even if they have no other formal qualifications, they can attend training sessions free at the Fran Mueller and Virginia Lageschulte Young Adult Training Center (YATC) to learn mushroom production and other enterprises, and after successful completion and demonstrated interest, they are eligible for a micro-loan for startup capital.

Ayishetu visited the YATC for the first time on Monday, September 21, 2015. When asked why she was seeking the training and what she hoped to gain from learning a new enterprise, Ayishetu shared that her dream is to keep her youngest two daughters in school as long as possible to ensure they get the education she never had. “You can hardly accomplish any dream if you do not have the necessary resources,” she said. So she is there to learn, and the center is there to provide access to those resources.

Veronica with rice harvested from her family farm

Out of Ayishetu and her husband Mustapha’s seven children, their eldest daughter never attended school, as educating girls is still not common practice in the north. Like many girls in rural villages, her eldest daughter was pregnant by the age of 17. After migrating south, their second daughter made it all the way to her first year of Senior High School. Then she fell in love and dropped out. She is now a farmer as well. Their third daughter made it to her second year of Senior High School, before becoming pregnant. Pregnant girls are not allowed to attend school, so she left for a year. She is now trying to return to complete her last two years of high school, if she can find a new school that will admit her.

Ayishetu and Mustapha could not afford to send their fourth daughter to high school, so she attended trade school and is now a seamstress. Their fifth child, and only son, had little interest in school and dropped out after 5th grade to become a driving apprentice like many of his friends. Their final two daughters are now in 5th and 4th grade respectively. Ayishetu hopes that the pair will see all the way through high school graduation if family finances permit.

Ayishetu and Mustapha recently had to relocate, but despite the move and long journey to visit the training center, she is persisting in learning about mushroom production.  So far, she has completed two training sessions in mushroom production, and looks forward to the day mushroom production may become an additional source of income for her family so they can see their youngest children through high school graduation.

Thank you for your support, which is ensuring that women like Ayishetu are able to complete training courses and access a loan to start mushroom production upon successful completion of all training sessions. This combination of knowledge and funds to put that knowledge into practice will improve quality of life for Ayishetu’s entire family, and enable her to cover even high school fees to ensure her daughters get the education she was never afforded. We look forward to sharing further updates once Ayishetu’s new venture is up and running.