This is Benta, one of the members of our women’s program.
Benta is a mother of nine children and a grandmother to four. She is the first wife of Akuno, who currently has two spouses. Her oldest three daughters married when they were children; their culture readily chooses marriage for a fourth grade girl over an education. Benta has taken her daughters and grandchildren into her home since their husbands cannot support them. Akuno is unfaithful, but he ignores Benta’s pleas. So every six months, Benta goes to an HIV clinic and waits for the result; still negative, though she believes it is only a matter of time until she tests positive for HIV. Akuno doesn’t see the connection between his unfaithfulness and the costly potential; his personal actions have thus far gone without consequence.
Benta’s story is one of many.
Women make up 50% of our world, yet in many places, especially Alendu, they have much less than 50% of the power.
A woman who does not have any skills is more likely to marry early and then have children that she must rely on her husband to support. Her dependence on a husband makes her very vulnerable to verbal and physical abuse, or having to stay in a relationship where the husband is consistently unfaithful, like Benta.
Our women & girls program helps to heal this deficit by helping women learn to tailor, make jewelry, grow food, and other skills they can use to support themselves and their children. This, in turn, gives them more agency to be able to make change in their own lives. Our women receive social and emotional support from each other as well as our social worker. For girls in school, we provide reusable sanitary pads so that they don’t have to miss a week of school each month. We also get them involved in our girls club, a space for girls to receive support and talk about the daily challenges of their lives.