Empowered Women Empower Women – 2019 Impact Report – Kukuboso, Ghana

These stories were originally featured in the 2019 Impact Report. 

Meet two women, Grace and Agatha, who are changing the conversation for women in Kukuboso and who are showing their community just how strong women can be.

 

Agatha and Veronica.

AGATHA AMPONSAH
A community organizer improving the lives of women.

This was originally written by Lydia Adomako, Micro-Credit Program Officer. It was edited by Jessica Crawford, Africa Program Specialist; Megan Sehr, Development Director; and Nora Tobin, Executive Director.

Agatha Amponsah is the 53-year-old face of Self-Help International’s Micro-Credit Program in Kukuboso and a passionate advocate improving her own life and the lives of the women around her.

In 2015, Agatha was selling slippers. Business was good but Agatha had limited resources and could barely afford to sell more than six pairs of slippers at a time. Agatha was desperate to increase her business’ capacity, and she ended up meeting with a family friend who she asked to loan her some money to invest in her business. The man empathized with Agatha’s struggle and bought her six more slippers to sell in addition to the six she already had. He also told her about an organization based in the nearby city of Kumasi that was helping rural women in the area by providing micro-loans and business training. The organization was Self-Help International.

At the time, Self-Help was working in the nearby community of Bedabour and the man advised Agatha to go learn more about Self-Help’s program. Agatha immediately told her friend, Veronica Asantewaa, about Self-Help and the two women traveled to Bedabour the next day. Agatha and Veronica met with a member of Bedabour’s micro-credit program, Vivian Nkrumah, who informed them that Bedabour’s next micro-credit group meeting would be the following Friday. Agatha and Veronica returned to Bedabour that Friday and met Victoria Yamson, Self-Help’s Empowering Women and Girls Coordinator. Victoria welcomed the two women warmly and said that Self-Help staff could at some point visit Kukuboso to see about setting up a program for the women there.

Agatha and Veronica were determined and eager to set up a group in Kukuboso, so they started following Victoria when she went to other villages in the area. Bedabour, Beposo, Kwamedwaa – wherever Victoria went, Agatha and Veronica were there waiting for her. Victoria finally asked Agatha and Vivian to organize a group of women in Kukuboso that would take part in piloting the micro-credit program in the community. Agatha went from house to house asking women to join the program, but the women were nervous; they had been taken advantage of by predatory lenders too many times and they were wary to trust Self-Help.

Agatha didn’t give up and she was able to organize a group of ten women to start the program in Kukuboso. In 2016, Victoria conducted lessons on good business practices and issued the group their first loan of 200 GHS ($50 USD). Now, in 2019, the micro-credit program serves approximately 50 clients and has 20 prospective clients in Kukubuso because of all of Agatha’s hard work. The program has enjoyed considerable success and lives in the community are changing.

For Agatha, growing her small business and increasing her financial security through the micro-credit program has brought joy to her life. Both of her daughters have been able to attend vocational schools in Kumasi. Agatha has been able to secure a shop for her oldest daughter to work and her youngest daughter is still in training. It was Agatha’s leadership in introducing the micro-credit program and strong community participation that opened the door for deeper collaboration between Self- Help and the community through the Teen Girls Club and agricultural and nutrition programs.

 


GRACE MBAWINI
A young woman defying the odds and dreaming big.

 

This was originally written by Grace Marfo, Teen Girls Club Program Officer. It was edited by Jessica Crawford, Africa Program Specialist; Megan Sehr, Development Director; and Nora Tobin, Executive Director.

16-year-old Grace Mbawini is an ambitious young woman with a bright vision for her future. She’s from a large family, and her parents, both vegetable farmers in Kukuboso, work hard to support Grace and her five siblings. Every day, she attends the local school in her community, Kukuboso D/A Junior High School, and she’s constantly redefining what’s possible for girls to achieve in her community.

In 2018, Grace found out about Self-Help International’s Teen Girls Club from the club coordinators in Kukuboso. Grace didn’t hesitate to join when she found out what the Teen Girls Club could offer: tutoring to improve her reading skills; opportunities to organize school events like English competitions; a chance to go on field trips led by Self-Help staff and community club coordinators; lessons on topics like self-esteem, leadership, and girls’ health; and hands-on training sessions in skills like embroidery.

For Grace, the organized training sessions and the extra reading lessons have improved her personal life, her self-esteem, and her English skills. Grace now has a better understanding of her menstrual health. Her interpersonal relationships with her friends, classmates, teachers, and adults in the community have improved. Through skills-based training sessions, Grace has learned how to embroider and sew, which means that she’s able to repair her school uniform and clothes if they’re torn.

The Teen Girls Club emboldened Grace to push to become the senior prefect at her school, a role that’s usually for male students. Grace credits the club for instilling confidence in her that now shapes the respect she has for herself and the personal values she chooses to embrace. Grace wants to be a role model for other girls in the club, and she hopes that being the senior prefect shows girls at her school what’s possible for them. Grace is a strong leader in the Teen Girls Club, and she shows up to meetings as an active participant ready to learn. She’s humble, kind, hardworking, and does her part in her school, community, and club.

Grace said that she didn’t think about furthering her education before she joined the Teen Girls Club. Being a member of the club has opened her eyes to see that there is a future ahead of her and she hopes to keep pushing ahead academically to become a teacher that inspires young women like her.

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