Friday, November 20, 2015

The life of an African village woman: Ghana

At Ripples Foundation we believe that every woman is important and should be given the opportunity to achieve great things. Our main goal is the empowerment of the African village woman.  We run a range of programmes in villages across Nigeria, Ghana and Cameroon that are designed to empower women through work, and provide them with the resources that they need to lift themselves and their families out of extreme poverty.

Before we start work in any community, we take the time to speak with the women of the village to discuss their situations and assess what programmes we can put in place to support them. On a visit to Ghana, our CEO Ms. Anne Phillips had the opportunity to talk to some of the women of one village and was able to get an insight into the kind of life they lead and the difficulties they face as women in their community.

Living in a village of 800 people, these women face many struggles on a day to day basis. They live in very small houses, which are not big enough to house their large families.  In addition to not having enough means for food or basic needs to take care of themselves or their children, one of the main struggles they face is not being able to control the number of children they have. They usually end up having more children than they can afford to look after because they feel that they cannot say no to their husbands. They are also not able to practise any methods of birth control because it is against their culture to do so. If they do disagree with their husbands and go to their families for help, they are sent back to their husbands.

One of the women talks about how she had 14 children out of which 7 of them died because she was not able to provide them with necessary nutrition or health care. A high mortality rate is often the reason why these women have lots of children: they believe that the more children there are, the more likely that some will survive.  

As some husbands see it, the main purpose of women is to have as many children as they can for as long as they can. One woman told us that once she reached menopause she was deemed as being no longer useful to her husband because she couldn't have any more children. However she says that she is much happier now because she is working on a Women's Enterprise Project, which she now sees as her 'husband', which means that she has the time to focus on growing the business and making money to support the children she does have.

When a child falls ill they are often unable to get any medical care because the nearest hospital is over 5 miles away and no-one in the village has a car or any other method of transportation that can be used. One woman talks movingly about how her child died in her arms in the middle of the night because she was unable to give him any medical care.

Having heard these stories and many more stories from women in different villages, we recognize how important it is to help these women by providing them an opportunity to do something for themselves whilst working towards lifting themselves out of extreme poverty. For this purpose we offer women with viable business ideas a start-up loan and training so they can start their own business and support their families.

The businesses that the women run range from fisheries and animal farms to Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter, Coconut Oil, Moringa Oil and Black Soap production. The women are able to use the money they make to take care of themselves and provide for their families and be recognised for contributing towards their communities.

If you would like to make a difference in the lives of these women please donate towards Ripples Foundation by visiting our Total Giving page today and help us make change happen.  
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