Albertine used to be shunned by her community. ‘When my friends saw me passing by, they would whisper, “Here she is, coming to borrow money again!",’ she says. Albertine lives in Diabo, a town in central Ivory Coast. ‘They would laugh at me because I was always asking for loans.’
Albertine came back to Diabo in central Ivory Coast, her home town, 12 years ago when her husband rejected the family. He believed Albertine and her six daughters were useless because they were all women. ‘My husband started neglecting the children, saying that female children are worthless.’
She decided to live back with her aged mother and her brother. Life was tough, Albertine struggled to make a living selling attiéké, a traditional west African cassava-based dish. But it did not provide enough income, and she had to take her children out of school.
Then one day, Albertine was invited to a meeting at church. She was surprised by what the organisers had to say: ‘They told me to relax. They were going to help me to take care of the kids.’ It sounded too good to be true, but it wasn’t...