Pastoral Women's Council PWC Tanzania
"I was among the founding members of the Ebeneza VICOBA groups in Longido, through my church. Primarily PWC have been mobilizing the entire village through village meetings. Our church pastor took this IGG idea from the PWC general meetings and encouraged us to set one up.
“After beginning the group our first action was to come together and agree on our terms of contributions. We began with everyone contributing 5,000 tsh at each meeting.
“With our first savings, we bought an altar for our church and that became a gateway for our success. The very next day the World Vision tender came up. We applied and won!
“The World Vision cooking income has been our seed money, and we have grown from there.
“I received an initial 100,000 tsh from the vicoba, and then a follow up 200,000 to establish a restaurant in the village. I provide food for guests and it is really busy, especially on market day, when I often serve more than 25 people and make 200% profit. I have already paid back my loans.
“Being part of this group has really changed my life because now I have the money to buy whatever my family needs. I have purchased a lot here in the town and have built a house for my family.
“This has made me a confident and independent person. I feel strong and proud knowing that I can own a business. This was a dream of mine and now I have done it.”
The foreshadowing of a women’s economic group in Ketumbeine first began around 10 years ago when an orphan boy in the area, Zacharia, asked for support to afford his school fees. The women came together and organised, each giving 500 tsh which covered the fees. From this initial call for support, discussions continued about how to provide sustainable support for Zacharia to continue his studies into the future.
The original investment group began with 20 women. Following PWC’s involvement and support seven years ago, the group has grown from strength to strength and now encompasses more than 100 women.
“PWC became involved with us after seeing our sense of community and commitment within the original group” says Teresea the group Chair.
Over the years PWC’s support has enabled the group to grow in size and sophistication. In 2016, with PWCs leadership, the group formed their first ‘VICOBA’ independent savings and loan scheme.
The VICOBA structure sees each women contributing weekly funds to the group pool as investment shares. Records of individual contributions are recorded in log books, which illustrate each woman’s investment and loan balances.
Group member Tumaini was the first member of the group to receive a loan from the VICOBA, in December 2016. She borrowed money to purchase two bulls to fatten and resell for profit.
“I chose the business of buying and fattening bulls because the opportunity for profit is high. Many Maasai make money like this, so it seems low-risk” she says.
Before having independent access to a loan, Tumaini has never had the right to own cattle. Her Maasai culture and husband mean that the change to financial independence and property ownership is novel and exciting for Tumaini.
“Just yesterday my husband took one of my goats and sold it without my permission. When he got home I told him off and made him give me the money!
“I have always shared with my husband the knowledge and benefits I get from the group and now he has greater respect and appreciation for me. So when I put my foot down he listens to me!” she says.
“I was fortunate to be one of the people trained by PWC as a CAHW (Community Animal Health Worker), after which I established a veterinary shop.
“This area is in drought right now though, so the livestock have moved areas. During this time I have changed my shop to sell consumables instead. I have learnt that it is important to be flexible in business!
“Once the livestock returns I will retain this business as I have a good customer base, and I will open a second shop to re-establish the veterinary medical store.
“My husband and I run the business together. My involvement in the VICOBA has really strengthened the partnership with my husband. It has strengthened us as equals. It has also supported my family to help support my children’s wellbeing and schooling.”
“I got divorced in 2015 after 25 years of marriage. My six children and I were chased away from our matrimonial home by my husband. Fortunately, I had a small plot that was given to me by the village council.
"I had to start my life afresh and had to solely provide for my children. My husband wanted to grab my plot but members of WRLF in my village reported the issue to the Ward Land Tribunal. The tribunal solved the issue in my favour and my ownership rights were affirmed.”
For the humble Maasai communities in Ngorongoro District, financial security and family welfare are fundamental concerns.
Life is particularly difficult for these families who face numerous environmental, economic and social issues in their area of the Ngorongoro District. Lack of pasture, livestock diseases, recurrent droughts, increasing livestock death toll, encroachment on conservation areas, poverty, and increased land-use conflicts with commercial enterprise mean maintaining the wellbeing of their families is a daily struggle.
One shining beacon of hope, progress and success for these communities is Emanyata Secondary School (ESS).
Founded in 1992, ESS is community-owned and reliant primarily on community financial contributions and self-generated income. In 2005 the School found itself in a difficult financial position and PWC was asked by local leaders to step in as the managing organisation.
ESS is now an important resource and support mechanism for the District, not only as a local school and employer, but as a centre for discussion and development for the community and a platform for a girl’s empowerment movement that is creating change in this typically patriarchal society.
Within a Maasai culture that traditionally values boys’ education over girls’, ESS stands apart.
In 2015, 75% of ESS students were girls. Academically strong but financially struggling, without educational opportunity and encouragement these girls would be at high risk of forced marriage and early pregnancy. ESS provides them with a quality education and a safe living environment.
2015 marks 10 years of PWC’s stewardship and a year of great progress for the School. In addition to PWC’s ongoing student scholarship support, 112 ESS students were provided the PWC Pre-Form 1 progamme, which provides language lessons and subject tutoring to help prepare students transition from Tanzania’s Kiswahili primary curriculum to the English secondary curriculum. Enabling girls to successfully enter Secondary School also provides them with a secure campus home and safety from forced marriage and gender-based violence.
Ongoing academic success and community demand enabled a campus expansion in 2015. PWC facilitated the construction of two classrooms, an office for the headmaster and a boys’ dormitory. Campus management was also strengthened through recruitment of a Grounds Manager.
10 years of time and resource investment by PWC and numerous community members, student parents and financial supporters has come to fruition in recent years, with ESS placing first in their District in the Form Four National exams for the second consecutive year in 2015.
Lenoi Massago, a pastoralist girl from a remote area of Maasailand, has always struggled to attend school. When she was at primary school her father would try to stop her attendance. Once she was in standard five and realised the benefits of being educated she started finding ways around her father in order to attend school. When she passed her standard seven exams she expressed the desire to go on to secondary school but this was quickly brushed aside by her father. During the long break between primary and secondary school she was visiting an aunt when she heard that PWC were conducting interviews and exams to get a place in Emanyata Secondary School. She decided to go to the PWC office secretly so that her father wouldn’t stop her. She passed the exam and was told to report to the PWC office on the 14th January 2012 to be brought to Emanyata.
She went home to tell her father only to be told that he wouldn’t allow her to attend the school. The village chiefs were alerted about this. They managed to talk to her father and he promised that he would take her and that he would buy her all the requirements that she would need for school. When they discussed this with Lenoi's stepmother she refused to agree. Lenoi’s hopes of going to secondary school were dashed.
She stayed at home until March when she decided that she would try and make her own way to school. She ran away from home and found her way to a village near the school where she found a PWC worker. They put her on the phone to the PWC education officer who told her they would help her. Lenoi met up with one of the Emanyata Secondary School teachers who arranged for all the uniform and school necessities to be bought. Finally, Lenoi made it to secondary school.
Since then she has been under the full sponsorship of PWC. She does not go home for any holidays for fear that her parents will force her to marry or get a Morani (young warrior) to impregnate her. Her brother came to Emanyata to try and take her home but he was denied access by the school.
As long as PWC have the sponsorship funds and if Lenoi keeps working hard she will be able to complete her form 4 exams. Lenoi does not want to return home and be married off. She wants to choose her life path for herself. She has struggled so much in the face of adversity to be given the opportunity to be educated. She dreams of one day being a doctor. She wants to have her children educated in the best schools. With the help of the sponsorship from PWC this dream could become a reality for her.
“In 2011 I was glad to attend training on bead making facilitated by PWC. The knowledge and skills I gained has enabled me to make beads and take them to the cultural boma. I have also been training other women whom did not attend the training. The loan I got from the SACCOS has enabled me purchase more beads.
Before I joined the SACCOS I could only feed my family one meal a day and that was not assured. Now I am assured to feed my family two meals a day. I wish one day to be able to feed them three meals. We need more trainings and we promise PWC that we will help more women to be self reliant. I also request PWC to facilitate other trainings to diversify our businesses also to train us in ways on emergency savings to help us in drought periods like now.”
"I create awareness among women about microcredit, I train them about what it means and how they will benefit. The group organises for each member to give money and looks to NGO’s and the government for additional funds. The group decides at a general meeting which 8 or 9 members will borrow money this time. Once they start making a profit they start paying back the loan. For example, some members travel to buy maize, sugar or tea where it’s cheap, then sell it in a different area, or to hotels. No member has ever defaulted on her loan.
At the moment there are 371 women in our group from three communities. The challenge we have is that the number of members has increased but our capital is only 7 million shillings ($4,600) so we can only help a few women at a time."
"Three years ago the women in my area had a meeting and chose me to go and live at the Boma because I was so poor. My husband had two other wives and never helped me. I used to sell firewood to another village 10km away so I could afford cornflour to feed my children. My children were very skinny. Sometimes I had no food for my children so I divided them up and sent them to different relatives. I couldn’t afford pens or books so the two eldest dropped out of primary school.
I came to the Boma as a volunteer to look after the livestock. The Boma paid me a small amount with income that it generated. With that income I started buying goats, and selling them at a profit, then buying more. At the moment I have 33 goats. I also bought two chickens and now I have over 50. I’m the only person in the community who owns any and I sell chicken and eggs at the market every Saturday. I’m also cultivating half an acre of land, growing maize for my children. I’m planning to extend the plot.
My husband is now helping me with many things when before he gave me no support. He also volunteers at the Boma and helps me grow the maize. We’ve had another child together. With the money I’ve made I’m now buying materials to build my own house. Soon I will be leaving the boma as I can live independently and the community will choose a new woman to come in my place.
PWC is deep in my heart, I can’t describe how I feel. Everyone now respects me; they see how hard I’ve worked. My children are healthy and more confident. My three eldest are in school, I am now able to pay my school contributions. PWC is like a milking cow, I want it to survive forever."
“In my village, Sakala, I am a Women’s Rights Committee representative leader. My role is to talk on their behalf. I am not happy at all when other women face many challenges especially domestic violence problems and they fail to get help. I try to help by advising them to present every problem they face to the concerned authority and in that case to the Maasai village council as this is the first ladder of leadership authority.
Many Maasai women are beaten by their husbands and fail to report to the concerned authority fearing their husbands, will beat them again and send them back to their homes. My role is to help those who fear to report their cases. I usually go with them and speak on their behalf. I have gained much knowledge through trainings on women rights and this has really given me the strength and authority to face men.
My advice to my fellow women is that, we should not keep quiet. Let us know we have our rights. Let us report any case of domestic violence to the responsible authorities. My dream is to take part in all decision-making processes and be chosen to represent my fellow women in the village council and even above. One day I wish to be a councilor to voice women’s issues which are often left aside during decision-making processes and developmental issues.
Thanks to PWC for enabling us to have our forum where we are free to present all issues affecting women”.