Client Stories

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

Zakareya: 12-year-old entrepreneur (Egypt)

Zakareya is a 12-year-old entrepreneur, who lives and works in the Ezbet El Asker area of Aswan City.

Zakareya Kiosk EgyptPreviously, Zakareya was a street vendor, selling Koshary (a traditional Egyptian dish) on the streets, where older boys frequently harassed him. Zakareya did not have the knowledge or awareness to understand that this constituted a work hazard; nor did he have the skills or tools to resolve this problem. Moreover, Zakareya's mother is a widow, raising 3 school aged children – their family income was low, all 3 children were working and attending school, and they suffered poor nutrition: their school performance suffered as a result.

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Osouleya: corner store girls (Egypt)

Osouleya EgyptOsouleya is a young lady who had fallen on hard times: her delivery truck and all the goods it was carrying were destroyed in a car accident. Osouleya then employed her two nieces Saly and Sahar Shawal in her little corner grocery store. These stores make up a large number of Egyptian Association for Community Initiatives and Development (EACID) clients: tiny little stores that sell a variety of goods – from canned food goods to flashlights and batteries.

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Basma and Ibtisam: long term success (Egypt)

Basma and Ibtisam have been with the Promoting and Protecting the Interests of Children Who Work in Egypt (PPIC-W) programme since it’s very inception; in fact, their family business was one of the early WIF projects.

Basma EgyptTheir family grocery store is located in the most economically deprived area in Aswan, up a high hill with steep and narrow streets. Their job was to carry the grocery inventory up the hill, which was extremely hazardous for the girls. Their loan allowed their parents to buy a cart, which decreased the physical risks faced by the girls.

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Jack and Brillian: e-vouchers help mitigate risk (Zambia)

Jack and Brillian 2 ZambiaJack and Brillian Handando, an energetic couple with dreams of improving their farm, live off a dirt track in southern Zambia. With 14 children, five of whom are orphans, the Handandos manage their resources scrupulously. Everyone in the family works hard to grow cotton, peanuts, maize, sunflower, soya beans, and other vegetables—some for selling and some for consumption.

This year when Jack decided it was time to sell his cotton, he learned that the cotton company, Dunavant and a Zambian mobile payments company, Zoona, were offering farmers the opportunity to receive part of their payment for cotton on e-vouchers.

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Ismoil: sweet challenge (Tajikistan)

Ismoil wife and son TajikistanIsmoil Isokov is living with his 2 sons and wife in the center of Istaravshan in North Tajikistan. The main connection from Khujand to the capital Dushanbe leads through the region. As a result, Istaravshan is known for its active trading and has the largest market of North Tajikistan. Best conditions for producing and trading agricultural products.

Ismoil together with his brother has received 5 ha of land during the land reform in 1997. Like many other new farmers, he needed to catch up on farming techniques and technology, and he needed external finance to start a successful farming business. Since the start of MEDA's 'Farms to Markets' project, Ismoil has been a client of two components. The agricultural advisors have been visiting him and advised him in innovative farming techniques and marketing opportunities. In the last season he has received a credit from our local partner organization IMON, which he used for fuels and agro-chemicals. As a result, he was able to improve his tomato and grape yields and quality, receiving a sales contract for tomatoes with the local processing company, The Technological Center. He processes his grapes into raisins and by now has an annual average of 14t of raisins, which he sells without any problems on the local market or in Khujand.

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Bizoro: growing opportunities (Tajikistan)

Bizoro and husband TajikistanBizoro Razakova lives with her husband, two sons and their families in the very traditional county Chorku. Bizoro is a graduate from the university in Dushanbe and has worked for thirty years as a biology and geography teacher in Chorku. In the last few years, she held the position of chairwoman of Chorku, before she went into early retirement in the young age of 54. And she enjoys it. Now she can fully concentrate on her 'hobby' and main income, gardening and food preservation with MEDA's Pro-Poor Agricultural Development project.

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Angela: precious, unique designs (Nicaragua)

Angela NicaraguaAfter 10 years of administrating her mother's Dressmaking Shop, 31 year old and mother of two, Angela Gisell Hernandez is now the owner of this shop that provides jobs for seven family heads. She purchases raw material, designs, sews and is also in charge of sales and marketing of the finished products.

Her designs include dresses, slacks, skirts and blouses. "My creativity comes from watching my mother day after day design and sew," said this bright eyes petite lady.

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Hawawu: securing her family’s future through MEDA GROW (Ghana)

Hawawu Issahaku GhanaHawawu Issahaku lives with her husband and two young sons in the community of Goh in northern Ghana. The villagers live in mud brick homes surrounded by lush farm fields; a dirt road links to other communities.

Hawawu's home is well kept, the courtyard swept, her kitchen fireplace carefully cleaned, the clay water pot full. There are signs of industry everywhere – a flock of chickens, goats, rabbits in an enclosure. Drying in the courtyard are the shea nuts Hawawu has gathered; shea trees grow wild across the scrub land of northern Ghana.

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Ayalew and Ashenafi: Training for Change (Ethiopia)

A story of two Business Owners who are 'Modeling the way'

Ayalew and Ashenafi - EthiopiaThe working conditions for youth in the textile industry are often overlooked. Business owners are more focused on getting the money out of the youth. MEDA has been working with weavers for more than two years and now through the E-FACE project, it is focusing on youth who are exploited because of their poverty and their lack of awareness. MEDA's intervention in the E-FACE project started first with addressing the work relations with the business owners (BOs) and their working youth to initiate behavioral & attitudinal changes. BOs were motivated to experiment creating a positive conducive environment for the working youth. This ultimately should, impact their profits as youth begin to eagerly work and learn the skills of weaving. Introducing a code of conduct is one of the methods used in this programming.

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Elena: breaking through gender barriers (Ukraine)

Elena Berezina
Elena Berezina - UkraineStatus: Married, 2 children
Main crop: Table grapes
Lead farmer to 20 UHDP clients
Area under Project crop: 1.5 hectares
Other source of income: wheat, sunflowers, oats

Before the Project:
My husband and I studied agriculture in St. Petersburg, Russia. We had heard about opportunities for farmers in Ukraine from my sister, and after graduating we moved to a small village in Ukraine's Zaporizhzhya oblast. My husband and I began a successful grain and sunflower operation, which continues to run strong today. It had long been my dream to start an agricultural business of my own, however due to gender norms and preconceived notions of the role of women in Ukraine, this was not an easy task.

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Diagen: Income from the sale of produce grew by 30% (Ukraine)

Diagen KharelovDiagen Kharelov - Ukraine
Director of Market Co-op
Co-op built 1st wholesale market in village
78 Cooperative members
20 Consistent traders
1200 people use the market every year
Market sells 100 tonnes/day during peak season.

Before the Project:
Like other farmers in the region, I grew my vegetables quite successfully, but since there was no wholesale market in our village, I had a hard time selling them. In 2005 I became part of a cooperative whose purpose was to build a wholesale market, and in 2010 I was voted Director. It made sense to have a market in our village considering almost 60% of us rely on agriculture as our primary source of income. Before cooperation with the UHDP, we realized a few small successes in building the basic infrastructure of the market and attracting a few traders to do business with us, however, relationships between farmers and traders were weak due to a lack of communication and undefined terms of business.

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Aliyah: "I feel like a new person!" (Ukraine)

Aliyah Seydametova UkraineAliyah Seydametova
Client since: 2011
Status: Widowed with 2 children
Main crop: Strawberries, 1200 m2
Secondary Crop: Grapes, 1200m2
Other income: Salaried position on Village Council
Gender Innovation Fund Grant

Before the Project:
In 2011, when my husband passed away, I was left as the sole provider for my two children and elderly mother. I worked as a cashier but I did not earn nearly enough income to provide the kind of life I wanted for my family.
Thankfully, the UHDP presented me with the opportunity to participate in the Gender Innovation Fund (GIF).

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Farmers to visit to "Greenhouse Capital of North America" (Ukraine)

Ukraine photoMEDA’s Leamington, ON chapter members are reaching across the ocean to lend a hand to fellow greenhouse farmers participating in UHDP – the Ukraine Horticultural Development Project.

The Leamington chapter will host a delegation of 15 greenhouse growers and project staff for a 10-day visit to Leamington area greenhouse farms, buyers and co-ops from May 29 to June 5. With the largest concentration of greenhouses in North America and more than 1,500 acres “under cover,” the Leamington area is known as the greenhouse capital of North America – and the tomato capital of Canada.

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Akhtar: diary of a Woman Milk Producer (Pakistan)

Pakistan Milk Client

I am Akhtar Bibi, a MEDA Pakistan client for the past 3 years. I hail from the village of Pandatwal in the district of Kasur. Accustomed to rising early, I am usually up and running by the time the sun sneaks past the horizon. A strong cup of tea provides me with the necessary morning kick as I start the process of milking my cows, something that I have been doing for many years.

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Leo: overcoming the unknown (Nicaragua)

Nicaragua MiCredito Driver PSLeo is a taxi driver living in Managua, Nicaragua and has been working at his trade for 15 years. He knows every speed bump, pot hole, over-turned stone and congested street in the city and has even managed to master the difficult directional system that Nicaraguan's proudly stand by.

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Esma: working with MEDA to accomplish more (Ukraine)

b2ap3_thumbnail_Meghan-1_20130102-145200_1.jpgEsma Khalilova- Chairperson of Umyut Cooperative
Lives in: Belagorsk region of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.
Client since: 2010
Status: Married with two grown children
Main Crops: Medicinal Herbs
Other Sources of Income: Medicinal Herb Consolidator

Before the Project:
Esma Khalilova and her family came to Crimea as asylum-seekers from Uzbekistan. Poor and lacking economic opportunity, their situation was further hindered by the discrimination they faced for their Crimean Tatar heritage. Despite these conditions, Esma started the Cooperative Umyut, which means, "Hope". Now, not only is Esma the chairperson of Umyut, she is also one of the main medicinal herb consolidators in the region.

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VSLA Addis Alem helps build resilient livelihoods (Ethiopia)

In the rural areas of Amhara, rice farmers live a hand-to-mouth existence. Having enough money to afford inputs for farming, school and household expenditures, particularly before harvest time is a significant challenge. Farmers are often forced to sell rice during harvest season when prices are low, which endangers their livelihood and hinders their income potential. As farmers are without savings habits, any surplus income earned following harvest is squandered at the local Saturday market on drinks. This was the previous experience of thirteen rice farmers who, with the assistance of Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA), formed a group known as Addis Alem Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA).

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