Last week, we trained women in rural Omin.
Early this year, we came to an agreement in our organization that we will charge $6 as a registration fee for our training programmes, especially now that funding for our work is scarce.
We went into Omin last Monday, but on seeing the situation of the women, we decided to forget the idea of any registration fee because most of the women cannot even feed themselves, let alone pay a registration fee for a training. If we had pegged the registration fee to $2, I am sure that half of them would drop the programme. The economy situation in Nigeria is biting very hard in the cities and villages. It is very hard in the villages because everybody produces what they need. There are few households without a farm, unlike the cities where people buy their food.
As the training progressed last week, an unfortunate incident happened amongst the women. One of the participating women stole $1. It became a dirty incident. When money is stolen in a crowd, the innocent one in the crowd is the owner of the money. Fortunately or unfortunately, someone saw the woman who took the money, and told us as it was happening.
I invited the woman who took the money to talk to me. Her story is a long one: Her husband walked away leaving her with two children. She has no work to keep body and soul together, and her children are another burden. She was attempting to steal to feed her family.
The matter was settled amicably. But as I listened, I asked myself: How can a woman who finds it hard to feed herself and her two children be able to save enough money to start up the business?
She is not the only woman with a walk-away husband. Many of the women we work with are widows and some are unmarried mothers, or mothers with estranged husbands. Hardly is there a woman who is comfortable in life amongst our trainees because our trainees are selected by their level of abuse or hardship they are facing in life.
This messy situation brings to mind the major challenge facing our trainees. We love to train women and women love to attend our training. In a country like Nigeria where life is very hard for single mothers, abused women, and rural women—the majority of our target group—how can we help the women to take off comfortably after our training?
It has been our dream to donate the resources women need to start up a business; we do not want them to access loans through our organization, because personally, I have seen many situation where women die because of the stress of a loan repayment. I do not want to cause more havoc for women who have already gone through a lot.
We know that we can do it, and we will continue to work towards starting up our trainees without causing them sleepless nights.