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Gifts matched, lives transformed

Find out how your support has been equipping women in CAR to create a better future for themselves and their families.

Women from one of the groups involved in the life-transforming work in the Central African Republic

Tearfund supporters gave an incredible total of £5 million to reach people in greatest need during our Christmas Appeal in 2017. Through the UK Aid Match initiative, the UK government gave a further £5 million, which went directly to changing the lives and futures of more than 10,000 women in the Central African Republic (CAR).

Noëlla is one of the women who benefitted from the project. She says, ‘Before in my relationship, everything depended on my fiance but today I am proud to say that I also support my home by meeting certain expenses.’

We begin with ABC

In July of 2018, our local partners set out to identify 10,000 of the most vulnerable women across three regions in CAR: Ombella-M’Poko, Lobaye and Bangui. 

It started with the implementation of key activities. First, around 80 facilitators were supported and trained to provide reading, writing and numeracy classes for women who required these skills. From these classes, more than 5,000 women managed to achieve a mark of at least 60 per cent from a Ministry of Education evaluation.

Jerine from the Central African Republic is one of the women who have benefitted from this project.

For around 4,200 of the women, their training involved courses to help them find ways to earn a living, such as tailoring, catering, soap making, poultry farming or hairdressing.

Empowering women

Having some education and an income allows women to contribute towards paying for their families’ needs, and also gives them respect and a voice within their homes and communities. Almost 9,000 of the women expressed that being able to pay some of the household expenses means that they are now consulted by their partners for important decisions.

‘I have understood over time that the only thing that blocks us is learning,’ Prestance tells us. She had to leave school aged seven when her mother passed away. The uncles who raised her couldn’t afford to pay for her education. ‘In the past, I didn't know how to write or how to calculate and it used to make me worried and embarrassed around other people… I had great difficulty giving change to people when they came to buy my goods.’ She says she struggled to use her phone because she couldn’t read. Now, through the project, all this has changed for Prestance and it’s made running her small business so much easier. She tells us that she’s teaching her children basic maths at home too!

All the women were included in the more than 400 Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) that were set up. VSLAs are groups that teach and practice basic financial skills, including saving together, keeping basic accounts and allowing group members to take loans to use for setting up or supporting small business ventures. Each of the VSLAs received a starting amount of capital from Tearfund.

Stitching a brighter future together

For Noëlla, who is also a mother of two small children, it was this capital that allowed her to build the sewing business she started along with a group of other women. Together, the women took a loan from their VSLA to buy their first sewing machine. Noëlla’s was also one of 16 enterprises selected to receive further equipment and start-up kits – which, in this case, meant providing the women with more sewing machines to use for their business. 

‘I am proud of myself and all the others,’ Noëlla tells us. ‘Before, we did nothing [in terms of earning money] but now, every time we sell a garment we’ve made, we are very proud.’

Through this project in CAR, around 8,600 other women like Noëlla have also been able to start new small businesses or to grow their existing initiatives so far.

Impacting whole communities

Life has improved for the women directly involved in the project, and this has had a much wider impact – reaching their families, their wider communities and the women around them who they are able to train and inspire.

‘In fact, by working with the 10,000 women who were directly involved in the project, just under 51,000 people across 26 communities have benefitted indirectly.’

In CAR, it is not uncommon for women to be treated as though they are less valuable than men in the home and in many other areas of life. This can lead to a prevalence – and even acceptance – of gender-based violence. As a key part of this project to empower women in CAR, Tearfund also worked through local church partners to train up 650 gender champions who could use their positions and public platforms to influence the wider community. By addressing these harmful ideas about gender with the men, alongside equipping women to have a voice in their homes and society, whole communities are being transformed and made into safer places for women and girls to thrive.

Thank you

‘We really thank God for allowing [Tearfund] to come and support us,’ says Prisca, who now has a soap-making business. ‘We have learned as women to fight our way through life.’

Thank you to every supporter who made this work possible, bringing change in the present and, in so doing, transforming the future for women in CAR.

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