When we visited Mama Wini John at her restaurant last week, the solar-powered TV was broadcasting the news while customers streamed in and out. Her husband, Moshi, was busy preparing for the lunch rush on the stove out back. Catching up over a cup of tea, Mama Wini’s stories featured all the elements of a happy, fulfilling life.
Her eldest daughter, a college graduate and primary school teacher, recently married. Mama Wini talked about the home she built with Moshi and the minor renovations they recently completed. She shared her plans for the future of her business, which includes moving her restaurant from the space they currently lease to a building they will soon own.
Hearing Mama Wini describe her present reminded us that life wasn’t always so sweet for the John family. Ten years ago, Moshi worked part-time in the maize fields, struggling to keep their family afloat on the limited income of a seasonal farmer. With her education ending after primary school, Mama Wini was unqualified for most jobs that would provide a more sustainable income. She felt helpless in the fight to support her children and provide them with the opportunities she wasn’t afforded as a child.
Desperate for help, Mama Wini came to TCF looking for any way out of the cycle of generational poverty. With a starting loan of $75 dollars and foundational business training from our Microfinance Program, Mama Wini started making and selling mandazi (doughnuts) on the streets of Oldeani town. Within a year, she took out her second loan to start renting space in order to open a full restaurant.
With additional loans and consistent increase in profits, Mama Wini and Moshi were able to build a house, raise their children in a stable environment, and cover the costs of their continued educations.
As our Microfinance Program prepares to welcome 100 new clients this year, Mama Wini proves that the dreams of our community are more than capable of becoming their realities. For we have learned that when you combine access to knowledge, opportunity and support, even the most extreme cases of poverty don’t have to be permanent.