Cattle farmer Dima Wario lives in Kella Kufa village in Gomille District in Ethiopia’s Oromia region. She is 27, and lives with her husband and three children.
Once or twice a month, she walks for an hour to the nearest small town, Surupa, to buy items for her home. She is envious of the services locals in the town enjoy. It is not her personal comfort that worries her. She wants a better education and a brighter future for her children.
Sometimes she laughs at herself, and how she dreams big while she can’t afford even simple things with her husband’s income. Life is tough not only for Dima, but for the entire community. Climate change has made drought more frequent in Ethiopia. The constant threat of desert locust swarms and cattle disease are further threatening Dima’s way of life.
However, Dima prefers to stay positive and focus on creating a good future for herself and her children.
One day she heard people saying that GOAL was training community members on setting up a Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA). The training involved guiding the community on saving money, managing income and starting a business.
“At the beginning people were skeptical. Some said it was a scam, and others joked about it. But I saw it as a way to achieve what I always dreamed of. I convinced relatives, friends and neighbours from the village to organise into a VSLA group when we completed the training provided by GOAL.” Dima says.
Initially, she had no personal income so she made savings from her home expenses and money her husband gave her to take care of herself. This became her routine. She now saves for a period of time, and then takes a loan to buy goats and sell them for a profit. She uses this to pay her loan and to save again.
Seeing Dima’s motivation and commitment, the group elected her as a chairperson of the VSLA. More local men and women have joined and saved, accessed loans and grown their businesses.
Dima became a busy woman. Aside from her responsibilities with the VSLA she was fattening goats and bulls. And she started a business bringing items from the local market to sell in her village for a profit.
“What I had was just a dream. GOAL showed me how to achieve it. Currently, I send my children to school, share some of our home expenses with my husband, and I even support him on occasion. I am halfway to where I wanted to be, and I am confident that I will make it happen in near future,” Dima says.
Adane Tsegaye, GOAL’s livelihood officer, is impressed by Dima and the progress of the VSLA.
“It is exciting to see them grow this fast. We provided basic training and follow up. They’ve used it as a means to change their lives. This all happened due to the generous support of Irish Aid so I would like to thank them.” Adane said.
Dima’s courage has changed her life and the lives of her fellow villagers. Word of Dima’s success has also spread to nearby communities who are now looking to start their own VSLA.