A man of many ideas

Self-help groupsEthiopia

It can be hard when your life suddenly gets turned upside down. Wogasso knew that feeling too well. His career in the military was abruptly cut short after he injured his right hand. When he reunited with his family, life looked a lot different to how he remembered it.

Wogasso returned to his village in Ethiopia, to his wife, Busha, and their seven children. He felt out of place. Life in the military was very different from life at home. He was unsure if the two could ever be reconciled.

His money was spent on alcohol; his days drinking.

‘I couldn’t help my family: I was a drunk. I would lose my balance and fall down on my way home,’ says Wogasso. ‘My wife never complained, she would help instead – even if I was making life hard for her and our children.’

Wogasso knew things needed to change in his life, but he didn’t know how.

Finding Tesfa
A Tearfund local partner, the Terepeza Development Association (TDA), were running training sessions in his village to bring together members of the community and inspire people to get involved with business ventures. Wogasso decided to go along to the training and he ended up joining a self-help group.

Self-help groups enable small groups of vulnerable people to support each other, both financially and with mutual encouragement. Members begin by saving small amounts of money which are used to start new businesses or to help when times are tough. These groups are a proven method for communities to lift themselves out of poverty.

And the best part is, because people in the groups are working together, the burden isn’t placed on one individual. No one has to continue the battle alone – they can share the load.

The group Wogosso joined was called Tesfa, which translates into English to hope. And that’s what it brought to him and his family.

Finding friendship
The group would pray together and help each other out on their farms. Wogasso began farming with others in the group. His injury made most tasks impossible, so the group found ways he could still contribute so he didn’t miss out.

His new friends also encouraged him to stop drinking.

‘What really touched me, opened my eyes and changed my perspective, was discussing with others common issues, as well as looking for potential business opportunities and supporting each other,’ says Wagasso. ‘That was a big deal for me.’

New ideas
This was when Wogasso had a brilliant idea. In one of the group meetings, he was discussing how he could use his land more effectively and work more strategically. He pitched the idea that the group could farm his land together. The members could do the farming – work that Wogasso couldn’t manage because of his injury – and they would all share in the benefits.

This was a win-win situation for Wagasso. He would profit from his land without doing the heavy toil on it, and the group would earn an income to provide for their families.

‘In the first year of the agreement, I could see a positive change in my income,’ shares Wogasso. ‘I was participating in the meetings of the self-help group every week, and we kept saving and praying together. I loved the solidarity among the group members.’

Wogasso’s innovative business idea has changed his family’s life for the better. Using the profits, he has been able to support Busha in getting a spot at the market, where she now sells different items. The couple have also built another house, which they rent out.

It’s a far cry from the life Wogasso used to lead when he first returned to his village. Through this group, his relationships with his wife and children have been restored. He’s lifted his family out of poverty and made some incredible friends along the way.

‘I have a bright future with God,’ he declares.

PLEASE PRAY

  • Praise God for how Wogasso has been able to turn his life around. Thank God for the support his wife and his self-help group provided to make this possible.
  • Lift up self-help groups like Wogasso’s who cannot meet at the moment because of lockdown restrictions. Pray for wisdom for Tearfund and our partners in how we can continue to safely encourage and strengthen them during this time.
  • Pray for people who are struggling with life at the moment and who have turned to drink and other methods of escapism. Pray for God to comfort them in their pain, heal their brokenness and bring people around them who can support them in their recovery.

This article references events that took place before the coronavirus crisis.