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TOPIC: THE STRUGGLE of YOUNG MOTHERS |INTRODUCTION by EMILY BREW

 

Florence’s story really shows how economic vulnerability can affect a girl. She became pregnant at a very young age, which easily happens in an environment where girls aren’t aware of their own bodies and where the boys in their lives are willing to provide them with whatever they need… but for a price. This is a fairly common trap that girls with financial needs fall into. Now, with the help of the solidarity group, Ishaka, Florence is trying to make end’s meet by starting her own business.

 

Florence is nineteen…

 

and she has one daughter, Grace. When Florence was young, she had to drop out of primary school because her family couldn’t afford the fees. Instead of going to school, she sold peanuts, but she hated it. She lost money in the process, and had a falling out with her parents.

 

At age seventeen, she fell for a boy…

 

but after she became pregnant, he left her, and she grew miserable. Not long after, she joined Ishaka. She has now been in the program for just over a year. Her favorite thing about Ishaka? Saving money, being able to take out loans, and being able to give counsel to the girls in her association.

 

“FOUR MONTHS AFTER JOINING ISHAKA, I TOOK OUT MY FIRST LOAN. I BOUGHT A CASSEROLE DISH. WITH MY NEXT LOAN, I BOUGHT THREE CASSEROLES. THEN I BOUGHT TWO GOATS…”

 

When she got married…

 

her husband was unemployed, so she hired a bicycle so he could sell things. From this, he started his own business, and they’ve been able to renovate their home. Her husband now attends meetings at Ishaka when she is too busy to do so.

 

“NOW I KNOW THAT, EVEN IF HE DIVORCED ME, I COULD STAND ON MY OWN TWO FEET. MY CHILDREN WILL INHERIT FROM ME, NOT JUST MY HUSBAND…

THAT WAS SOMETHING I HAD LOST BEFORE JOINING ISHAKA. NOW, AT NIGHT, I THINK ABOUT ISHAKA. I GIVE THANKS FOR MY FRIENDS.”

 

In the future…

 

Florence wants to buy a plot of land for her children, as well as start another project in order to provide for them, ensuring their bright futures.

 


 

About ISHAKA: After years of war, Burundi is on a path to peace and development, but the outlook for adolescent girls is not as good. If things stay as they are, girls will hold only a quarter of private-sector jobs and formal credit and loans will be nearly impossible to come by due to a lack of collateral. Originally designed for women, CARE has adapted its Village Savings and Loan program specifically for adolescent girls in Burundi. Girls are organized into groups and make regular deposits into a group fund. Members can then take loans to invest in income-generating activities. Mentors oversee the groups and train the girls in financial education, life skills and sexual and reproductive health. Financial resources give girls the leverage they need to control what happens in their lives, while training and access to a mentor and social network gives them the information they need to safeguard their own well-being. The government and local partners are supportive of these efforts.

 

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