Anene Soumaine sits at the edge of a circle of women. She is the chief’s wife and is well respected in the community. She knows when to talk and when to listen. At 53 years old, her wisdom is carried on the lines on her face.
Amkharouba is not a large village but it sits on a small hill in Chad, covered in millet and sorghum fields which boast of hard working hands.
The women have gathered in front of the chief’s house to discuss their savings groups. Five groups, 100 women, and one ideology that is changing their community one coin at a time.
In the five months since their formation these women have managed to save over $1,500.
“Through World Concern’s trainings we have learned how to save,” Anene said. “Now we are using the group money to solve our own social problems. It is such a great thing. Now our heads are full. Before our eyes were blind but now we understand. It has brought us light.”
Each group has set their own rules. Personal savings and groups savings. Fines for missed payments. Minimum weekly contributions. But with the rules also come talks of what this money could do for them.
Anene’s group, called “joy” in Arabic, plans to buy goats and possibly donkey’s for each of it’s members at the end of the year-long cycle. But among the group leaders there has also been talk of bigger things such as a grinding mill or finding a way to start a school for their children.
“We encourage each other to be pro-active and we’ve been discussing the development of the community,” Anene said.
Treasurer of her group, Ashta Abakar, is quick to point out some of the changes that have happened in the mindsets of the women. As someone who often faced the threat of hunger before, she now finds great comfort in knowing there’s a safety net.
“Now I know there is a place I can borrow money from,” she said. “It has relieved me because even though when I don’t have money, I can still solve my own problems and answer my own needs.”
As a mother of nine, Ashta also has seen the effect this security will have on their future.
“I can see that this is going to develop our village,” she said. “Not just for us mothers but also for our children. They will have a better life than we had and they can be proud of us. We are learning, and so are the children. They are around and they hear any guidance we are given.”