Rifkatu: A Story of Hope and Tenacity
Before joining Women for Women International in Nigeria, Rifkatu worked tirelessly to make a living through farming and trading in order to provide for her family. Her attempts at starting up a successful business were always cut short by those who took advantage of her generosity and her lack of skills required to keep records, make sound decisions and save money. Rifkatu also had difficulties with her husband who abused her and did not share the proceeds of their farming to pay for the children’s school fees. So, for peace to reign and to avoid further abuse, Rifkatu became responsible for the family’s welfare sometimes begging to feed her children. All of Rifkatu’s efforts to support her husband and provide for her family were fruitless.
Despite these difficulties, Rifkatu never gave up, rather she intensified her efforts at being a successful farmer and trader. It was during her struggles for financial independence that she heard of the Women for Women International’s program and joined in March 2016. This was the turning point in Rifkatu’s life. In her words, “the program gave me a new meaning of life”.
“This program has changed my life is so many ways”, she says. “I have begun to save using the savings account opened for me instead of spending all my earnings like I did in the past.” To hone her saving skills, she joined a savings group formed with other women from her program group. Rifkatu has started earning an income through poultry. Utilizing the savings group, her poultry business grew from having 20 birds to 60 birds. She learned that women have rights to own assets, have an inheritance and to earn an income.
Rifkatu’s husband, Jonah, has also joined the Women for Women International Men’s Engagement Program. She says, “He now sees me as a person just like himself and not some goat or property he purchased with money.” Jonah now provides for the family and has apologized for his previous abuse. He admitted that he wrongly thought she was taking her savings to her parents but he has come to realize that all her efforts were to support him and the children. Rifkatu’s physical abuse ended when Jonah became exposed to the information the program provided.
Rifkatu will graduate from the program very soon but already she has made great strides in creating a stable and fulfilled life for herself and her family. She says, “I feel emotionally and psychologically happy.”
Currently, in addition to her poultry, Rifkatu trades in guinea corn, sorghum and sweet potatoes. She will be graduating from the program on February 27, 2017.
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