Client Stories

Read some of the stories of people changed through the work we do at MEDA with your help:

I had great support and encouragement from other GROW women

amanduAsetu Tipeani Amadu, is a soybean farmer and the lead farmer of her group in the Nyoli community of Wa West District in MEDA’s GROW project.

Through her active participation in the Naamwin Sunte group (meaning “God help us”), Asetu became a Lead Farmer and had the opportunity to participate in training sessions in the areas of best agronomics practices, group dynamics and soybean utilization. During the farming season: “I successfully cultivated 0.5 acre of soybean for household consumption due to its high nutrition. I also adopted no-tillage farming to make my production cost lower. I have increased my farm to one acre this year and expected to harvest about seven bags at the end of the season.”

Asetu is one of the only nine women to win an Assembly seat and will represent the silent voices of more than 600,000 women and children when she helps the Assembly make investment decisions. She said that being a GROW Lead Farmer helped her to prepare for her role as Assembly Woman. Through her involvement with GROW, she has attended important training sessions, has access to important information, has gained an understanding of community issues and gender dynamics, and is better able to manage her workload and support other women. Her experience with the project has boosted her confidence and made her more confident, which will help her represent the community in the Wa West District Assembly.

According to Asetu: “I was greatly supported by the GROW Project to have quality posters, package my message and identify entry points and not to insult others. The men contenders tried to frustrate me but I was determined and I had great support and encouragement from other GROW women.”

PrintEmail

Dancing with joy...

GROW DancingAnd in the villages they dance with joy. We were honored again and again with music and dance and clapping and singing. We were thanked for coming to see them and for being supporters. And we brought Mary Fehr and Sarah French, who cycled across Canada last summer as part of Bike to GROW to raise money for them and other women like them in the GROW project.

PrintEmail

They started small and their success grew...

Ghana Lead FarmersThis group of a village’s lead farmers don’t have to be coaxed to come forward!

The upper Wa Valley, where GROW works, has over 1,000 lead farmers. Some were chosen for their farming/leadership ability; some came forward when they heard of an opportunity to do something new.

They all have similar stories: They started small and their success grew. These lead farmers each have a group of 15-30 other women farmers that 'report' to them. The program already reaches over 20,000 women farmers. Thanks to them and their local partners and MEDA, they can now see:

  • that soya is better for the soil,
  • that soya is more nutritious than maize,
  • that an acre field of soya creates a larger yield than the same acre of maize,
  • and that this extra production allows them to have some for their families and some to sell.
Through MEDA and their local partners:
  • They have been taught better ways to plant and grow the soya.
  • They have been taught many new nutritious ways to prepare the soya for their families, which provides a marked improvement in their diets.
  • They have learned about value chains – understanding that they can't just grow their crops but need sustainable ways to sell and market them. MEDA has created incentives/loans to local people who want to 'risk' becoming entrepreneurs as well.

One man has begun a soy milk processing plant; other women have been growing soya seeds to sell and they are locating markets to sell their soya, and so again the sustainable chain continues to grow.

PrintEmail

She brings pride to her family and village

Mary BabeleThis is Mary Babele from Tendoma, one of GROW’s lead farmers. Is there any question that this woman is confident? Look at her stance. Not only is she a lead farmer – she is a Ghana soybean farmer of the year!

Here is a common lead farmer story: As it is her husband’s land, she has to ask for half an acre. When she does well, she asks for one acre, then three, and now is aiming for 10, then 30!

Dayi first won a district soya farmer award, and she received a bicycle and tools that she needed for her farm. Then she won soya farmer of the year! Not only did she earn the bike and tools, but she won a cell phone that makes it easier to coordinate with her other farmers.

She also won money. And as we hear over and over, the money that she earns she brings back to her village and family: Her children can go to school, the family can afford better food, she can work more with her other farmers. And of course she brings pride to her family and village. And this is how the sustainable model of MEDA grows.

PrintEmail

Changing how they view their work...

MandelaThis is Mandela. He is from one of MEDA KFPs – key facilitating partners – a fancy name for the local organizations that provide the bulk of the interface and training between MEDA and their clients.

MEDA does extensive research to identify projects and their local partners.

But this is what Catherine Sobrevega, MEDA country project manager for GROW, said when she described MEDA's original plan for the project: “They said it would never work! Why? Africans were used to all the nonprofits giving them things – they wouldn't participate if we didn't give them something. MEDA actually scaled back their program due to the local partners’ concerns.”

How often we think that because we have always done it one way – a hand out – that people don't really just need a helping hand.

But now that KFP, Pronet, is MEDA's biggest promoter. It has changed how they view their work. They praise the model of lending/finance and entrepreneurship over giving. They have seen that this is a more sustainable model and seen – in a relatively short time – the women are more independent, more confident, seen as more important in their villages, have increased income that they have channeled into healthier futures for themselves and their children.

PrintEmail

Madebo: No more shortage of food (Ethiopia)

022 Madebo Kastro 1Madebo is a 40-year-old potato producer from Delbo Wogane, in Southern Ethiopia. Before joining E-FACE (Ethiopians Fighting Against Child Exploitation), he found it difficult to provide for his family in terms of food and affording his children’s education expenses. Now, he is benefiting greatly from improved production and new skills and knowledge gained from the project.

Continue Reading

PrintEmail

Tsehay: "Yes we can!" (Ethiopia)

015 Tsehay AlemayehuMy name is Tsehay Alemayehu and I have six children. Since the age of three, I have been taking medication for my illness. Despite my physical problems, I am determined to leave my children with something that can change their lives. I joined E-FACE under the VSLA (village savings and loan association) financial service intervention and it has changed my life for the better. It has been one year since I became a member and I cannot imagine life without this service.

Continue Reading

PrintEmail

Mofida: A woman with big ambitions (Libya)

Mofida KhudanaMofida Khudana, with a diploma and a degree in business management, owns a modest women’s clothing store in her city of Ghadamis, but she has much bigger dreams.

She wants a building to attract both Libyans and tourists – a combined centre for human development and small hotel. Mofida joined the LWEE (Libya Women Economic Empowerment) program to learn new business skills and access resources to be better prepared to implement her new, larger plan. “I was determined to start my own business.”

Continue Reading

PrintEmail

Tekabech: A change in attitude (Ethiopia)

Tekabech TekluTekabech Teklu is a member of the village saving association for youth (VSAY) group, Worek Amarfe, which translates into "The Golden Seat." At sixteen in Addis Ababa, she is keen on studying political science and hopes to become the first female president of Ethiopia. She is well spoken, confident and full of positivity regarding her future and that of her country. But Tekabech was not always like this.

Prior to being part of the E-FACE (Ethiopians Fighting Against Child Exploitation) project, Tekabech was a different person. She talks about arguing with everyone in her neighborhood and at home. She was quick to pick a fight with others and didn't see the value in helping with housework or with the weaving work done by her parents.

Continue Reading

PrintEmail

Moises: Family business makes pottery the traditional way (Nicaragua)

Moises-showing-a-fired-pieceMoises-showing-his-large-potsMoises is a potter in San Juan de Oriente, Nicaragua, who prides himself on creating custom pieces to suit his customers' desires. He uses a traditional hand-powered wheel because the quality of the work is very important to him.

"This business has been running for 40 years. It is a pioneer in this community," Moises shares. "It's a business we inherited from our grandparents and it should last for many years more."

Continue Reading

PrintEmail

Carlos: Pursuing his entrepreneurial dreams (Nicaragua)

Carlos-boatsCarols-displays-his-brochuresCarlos Hernandez was born and raised on one of the many islands surrounding Nicaragua. When he started looking for work, he came to the mainland to sell goods at a local market before trying to work in real estate, though neither venture was very successful.

Carlos used his first paycheck to buy a boat, leaving behind his previous jobs to pursue his entrepreneurial dreams. His idea was to provide tours of Nicaragua by water. Carlos named the boat Scarlett, after his daughter, and Karina, after his wife, who were both "gifts to me from God."

Continue Reading

PrintEmail

Jamilelh: Creating her own beginning (Nicaragua)

Jamilelhs-tortilla-standJJamilelh-with-her-tortillasamilelh Flores is a tortilla maker and owner of a small roadside stand in Nicaragua selling fast food and natural drinks. She employs three people to help her serve many local customers during the long hours from 5am to 7-8pm. Her most common dishes incorporate tortillas and cheese.

Jamilelh started her business 20 years ago. She had a bad experience with a previous group loan and had to pay money she didn't use to cover the debts of others in the group. "The most difficult part is when you don't have money," Jamilelh openly says. "Once you have the money, you have a beginning."

Continue Reading

PrintEmail

Oracio: A potter who loves the process (Nicaragua)

Oracio-Perrez-finishes-a-piece-of-potteryOracio-Perrez-talks-about-the-clayIn Nicaragua, Oracio Perez has been working since he was 15 years old. After struggling to find a job, he went to school to learn ceramics, and has made it his life's work for the past 25 years. "It's a family business. Six of us work together," he acknowledges.

Oracio and his family purchase the clay from a local mine. "We are blessed by God because we have a lot of clay around," he admits. To prepare the clay, potters like Oracio put it through a process to become "clay dough" – initially adding water to make it wet and then adding sand to make it malleable.

Continue Reading

PrintEmail

Melkamu: Cultivating his own way (Ethiopia)

MelkamuBefore farmer Melkamu Ayana joined MEDA's EDGET (Ethiopians Driving Growth through Entrepreneurship and Trade) project, he used to cultivate his rice crops traditionally by broadcasting.

"I would sow the seed by cultivating the land only once," he admits. "Once I cultivated the land, I would sow the seed through broadcasting."

With this method, the weeds grow faster than the seed. The weeds and the grain grow together, making weeding difficult and time-consuming.

Continue Reading

PrintEmail

Reshat: "Confident about the future of my business" (Ukraine)

Ukraine 34Before the Project: Before beginning my farming business, I had to take on various jobs in order to give my family the best life possible. I was unsatisfied with this fragmented work because nothing resembled a serious profession and I felt very unstable. I liked the idea of agriculture because it is good, honest, and hard work. With the help of my uncle I began growing greenhouse vegetables. In our area I did some small-scale consolidations with other farmers and due to my central location, I naturally became the leader of an informal group of 7.

Continue Reading

PrintEmail

Natalia: Cultivating a future (Ukraine)

Ukraine33

Before the Project: I used to be a National Champion in academic rowing. When I finished my education, I moved back to the Zaporizhzhya oblast to work as a kindergarten and gym teacher, but I felt that there was no room to grow in this field. When my greatgrandfather moved to Zaporizhzhya years ago, he said he was “bringing his family to abundance” and I feel as though it is the wish of my ancestors for me to work this land! A friend told me about the many opportunities of the Project. I took it as a sign to start cultivating medicinal herbs, which had always been a part of my life as a child, athlete, and caretaker.

Continue Reading

PrintEmail

Farida Yasmeen: Facing challenges one step at a time (Pakistan)

Farida Yasmeen“I am successfully managing a working group of 35 experienced embellishers who I link with different buyers and get orders from them,” says the emphatic 45-year-old, Farida Yasmeen.

A year ago, Farida was grappling with life’s misfortunes when she lost her husband in a suicide attack. Every year scores of people lose their lives in heinous attacks on communities leaving those who’re left behind without a sustainable source of income. Soon after, tragedy befell once again and Farida’s two children succumbed to diabetes. In an attempt to pick up the pieces, she migrated from Peshawar a few months ago, and now lives in Kanju Chowk, Mingora.

Continue Reading

PrintEmail

Bakht Bibi: Dir’s Wonder Woman (Pakistan)

Bakht BibiShe is a 27-year-old woman who lives in a remote area within Upper Dir - Batal Bala, a small village situated on a harsh, hilly terrain. Her name is Bakht Bibi, and a perfect life, with no worries of tomorrow, is a distant dream for her and her four children. The 2010 flash floods washed away Bakht Bibi’s only source of income: the medicinal and aromatic plants (MAP) she collects in the wild as well as her collection tools. With no money and no means to stand on her feet, she felt helpless.

Continue Reading

PrintEmail

Ma-ion: GROWing new opportunities (Ghana)

Ma-ion-Akosies-familyMa-ion-AkosieMa-ion Akosie is a lead farmer in the far northwest corner of Ghana participating in MEDA’s GROW project. A couple of years ago her husband died, leaving her and her six children to support themselves. This past year she grew nine 50-kg bags of soybeans despite poor rainfall. She is excited because even with a poor growing season, she achieved her best year ever using the right seeds, inputs, and technical assistance. She desires to give her kids the opportunity to become educated and sees her participation in GROW as the best way to achieve that. She is in the process of selling her soybeans and despite already receiving an offer to sell them at a good rate, she is exploring her options with other potential buyers as well.

Continue Reading

PrintEmail