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Functional literacy class for Women Cooperative members in Guerearema

Women Cooperative members in Guerearema are learning to read and write

When GTLI first piloted Integrated Functional Vocational Literacy (IFVL), attendance averaged 15 people, with only three regular attendees. Lessons were simple learning exercises. Now, five years later, each of the 12 lessons are organized into six discrete learning activities that reinforce healthy hygiene and sanitation, reproductive health, and nutrition behaviors.  In Gueranerama Dasenech, 51 adults (37 women and 14 men) have already attended 32 out of 72 learning activities and their commitment continues to grow! When men and women practice joint problem-solving in school, their respect for each other increases, which starts shifting norms in favor of gender equality. It’s transformative—and Gueranerama adults are raising the bar!

The Gueranerama Women’s Cooperative is also ahead of the pack in earning money. These amazing women have established an executive committee, a management committee, and a credit committee, with more than half of the 24 members actively participating in co-op management. The cooperative is licensed with the local government office, and during the past few months they have been able to deposit 4,095 birr (approximately $190) in profits into their Omo Micro Finance account. This may not seem like much but when the average household income is less than $1/day, it’s a fortune.

The women have been busy selling local drink and coffee chaff while they wait for the completion of the new rural trading center and the inauguration of their new grinding mill. Soon, more than 170 very vulnerable households will be able to purchase food and commodities locally (instead of walking for two days) and to save 2-3 hours per day using the grinding mill rather than grinding grain by hand.

Less than two years ago, Gueranerama Dasenech had no access to water, no literate adults, and poor linkage to health services. Women spent 100% of their time fetching water, manually grinding grain, walking for days to purchase sorghum, and were often victims of violent abuse. Thanks to four projects funded by different donors, 204 lives have been transformed:

  • USAID/Ethiopia’s project constructed a new water well
  • JSI’s APC project last year stimulated demand for reproductive health and family planning
  • JSI’s APC project this year has provided 48 households with a total of 288 moringa seedlings
  • Boeing Global Corporate Citizenship’s project is teaching IFVL, constructing a rural trading center, and installing a grinding mill

And, best of all, the people of Gueranerama are truly helping themselves. They contributed 11,340 birr as cost share (approximately $528) in May alone by fetching water for construction and participating in other activities.

Our aim is to equip South Omo pastoralists so that within five years, they will have the ability—the health, livelihood options, and leadership skills—to thrive. It looks like Gueranerama may well be our first success story in resilience. Fingers Crossed!

Marti MartindaleWe have a winner here!
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