Imagine yourself without family or friends, unable to claim any support from the state. Unemployment is sky-high, so no work is available, and everybody in your community is poor. What will you do? How will you survive? And when a man comes to you, offering money in exchange for your body – what do you say?
This is the heartbreaking choice countless women face in Burundi. Many simply see no option, especially when they have children to provide for, who may be hungry or sick. It’s hard to imagine being faced with such a scenario in our own lives, but it’s tragically common out there.
Alida found herself in such a position. Seemingly money was nowhere to be found except in the pockets of men ready to take advantage of her misfortune. But Alida was utterly resolved on one point – she would not sell her body. She desperately sought out any alternative to survive.
She found a set of hair clippers and started cutting hair to earn an income. Gradually she was able to build up a little money but was still in extreme poverty. Most hair salons had better equipment than hers, so she could only charge a small amount.
Eventually, Alida came across Greenland Alliance. One of their strategies is in the area of microfinance – they run savings groups where people can take out loans for small businesses and personal needs, which are then repaid at a later date. Group members also pay in a small weekly amount to gain access. They granted Alida a loan of £7 so she could buy some hair products and improve her services.
She saved up her profits and eventually bought a pig which will breed, giving piglets to sell, plus she can sell the manure to farmers.
Fast forward a few months, and Alida had repaid the loan and was ready to take out a larger one, this time to rent a shop premises to grow her business! Alida is respected by her community – they love the example she sets, refusing to sell her body and working hard through unimaginably challenging circumstances to lift herself out of poverty.
Once the loan is repaid to the group, they can lend to another person in need, building wealth for the whole community. From facing the grim temptation of engaging in prostitution to running her own business – it’s incredible how Alida’s determination, coupled with an initial loan of just £7, has radically and beautifully transformed her life!