The Hunger Project

Uploaded by thehungerproject on 26.11.2008

Every morning at dawn I walk miles for the water and firewood my family needs.
I prepare the breakfast.
I get my son ready for school.
I go to the fields to grow the food our family eats.
I keep my daughters out of school to help me with my work.
Sometimes I think I should send my daughters to school.
But where is the money and who will do all the work at home?
I have never been to school.
I was married at 12. Gave birth at 15.
My child was born at home and I have never seen a doctor.
My husband moved away five years ago to earn money,
but he can barely pay to live in the city.
So we are left on our own.
I keep my daughter inside the home to protect her honor.
When the male elders meet to make the decisions for the village, they certainly never ask women's opinion!
Even though we are the ones who know what needs to be done.
For generations, this has been the tradition.
Women are assigned virtually all the work to take care of the family.
Yet we have no voice.
People refer to me as someone's daughter – or someone's wife – or someone's mother.
Nobody ever calls me by my name.
Then there was a day I will never forget.
The Hunger Project came to my village.
All the men and women of the village came together, but this time the women did not sit in back.
We were asked to sit in front.
The workshop was led by volunteers called animators.
We discovered that we matter.
We created a vision for how we want our village to be.
Clean Water.
Better Crops.
This time, the voice of BOTH women and men counted.
But could we do something about this ourselves?
Many people were skeptical.
Usually we wait for the government to do things.
And they never do.
We had lost hope.
Yet when we really confront the truth…
when we really thought things through…
we discovered that we take action ourselves!
Some truly took a stand to make it happen – and I was one who did.
We set priorities.
We made our action plan! We felt free!
One priority we women pushed for was water.
We spend hours every day carrying water.
So as a village, we had a hand-pump installed for a well near our homes that all of us could use.
We wanted better crops.
No government extension worker ever visited our village.
We made it our business to make sure he did!
We built an irrigation system, so we're not dependent on scarce rainfall.
We were able to grow enough food to sell, and started earning money!
We have many more priorities now!
We are planting a village woodlot so we women and our daughters don't have to walk miles carrying fire wood.
I just cannot tell you how heavy that wood is!
One enormous burden on women is that we must spend hours every day grinding food by hand.
By all borrowing money together, we bought the machine that grinds food in minutes.
With more time, I'm taking literacy and numeracy classes.
Me! My mother could never read.
Her mother could never read.
Now I can count money and not be cheated at the market.
Now I am confident.
Now I speak out!
The animators encouraged us to form women's groups.
We took out loans.
We expanded our farms, earned more money, and repaid our loans.
Before, it was taboo for women even to touch money.
Now we run our own village bank!
With more income, we eat better and keep our daughters in school.
My husband has returned from the city – he now works with us in our business.
We learned about HIV/AIDS.
The animators did plays where we saw how it really is here.
The men are raised to have sex with many women.
And we women are raised to never to say no to sex, even when it's not safe.
Our people are dying in their most productive years because of how we were raised as men and women!
We took a stand to change this.
Both the women and men.
Our health committee launched a campaign – we want everyone to know how to prevent AIDS!
My world is getting bigger.
All the villages in our area are beginning to work together through The Hunger Project.
This past year, we built an epicenter.
We now have nurses within walking distance for every villager.
There are nutrition classes.
Skills trainings.
A community farm where we learn how to grow new crops and to use compost for better yields.
We women are empowered.
This doesn't mean someone gave us power.
It means that we stand up for ourselves and claim what is rightfully ours:
education, health care, freedom to travel, voice in decision-making.
These past three years have been amazing.
I became an animator.
I ran for local government elections and won!
Every step of the way there was training and partnership from The Hunger Project.
I'm a respected leader in my community.
We formed a federation of local leaders that now go to our government to get what is rightfully ours.
Before I was afraid of the government.
Now they are our partners.
The people hold them to account! We've won court cases.
We've had laws changed.
We are so proud of our village now.
We have achieved so much.
Mothers are living.
Our children are well fed and healthy.
People are mobilized.
Women have voice.
Basic needs are being met.
Recently, Hunger Project investors from other countries came to visit.
To share in our vision.
To celebrate our accomplishments.
From my first workshop, they told me I had this family.
Sisters and Brothers from around the world, committed to my success.
My family is bigger than I ever knew.
Millions of women and men in thousands of villages.
More than 180,000 trained volunteer leaders.
Thousands of committed investors.
Together we are creating a future free from hunger and poverty.
A future of Self-reliance, Equality, and Dignity for all.