Today, July 9th, we celebrate South Sudan Independence Day. Program participants in South Sudan have impacted everyone in their lives, maximizing their power and creating a ripple effect throughout their nation. In honor of this day, we are highlighting Nema Onzia, a brave women who completed our program in Jansuk, South Sudan.
Nema is 33 years old and lives with her husband and five children. In 2016, they fled conflict in Yei River County to the Hai mission area as internally displaced persons.
Before 2016, Nema enjoyed her life selling charcoal and fish from her home and earning money from agriculture to send her children to school. She had an acre of groundnuts planted that she planned to sell after harvest, but she was forced away from her farm and her home. Nema was also enrolled in a Women for Women International program in Jansuk before she fled.
In the conflict, Nema was frustrated and stressed because she lost her property. She eventually separated from her husband and left with her children. Life was hard; finding food was difficult, the village was inaccessible, and Nema was far away from home. She lost most of her income, her children were not at school, and she had money enough to buy only what her family needed day to day.
In Jansuk, she was enrolled in the Stronger Women, Stronger Nations program with the intent to become an entrepreneur. Over the course of six months, she joined a village savings and loan association (VSLA) and was nominated as treasurer by her peers. She began a retail business with her stipends and sold onions, fish, tomatoes, coffee, and cooking oil out of her home. Her dream was to expand her business by adding more goods to her inventory and reconnect with her husband. However, this dream was wiped away by conflict.
But by 2020, Nema had raised over 150,000 SSP ($1150) from her small business, VSLA, and she received support from her family to expand her business. She stocked new goods like eggs, sugar, soap, tea, beer, and soda. She can pay her children’s school fees and has now reunited with her husband. Nema is planning to open a tea shop in addition to her food shop. She expresses appreciation for the program and her power to build knowledge and skills that have made her an entrepreneur. She wishes for a program like this to reach every woman like her.