|© UNICEF video|
|The President of Association Rintereb Som, Kabore Ouedraogo, joined forces with other women after she lost her husband 19 years ago.|
By Thomas Nybo
OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso, 9 April 2008 – A women's association in Burkina Faso is helping single mothers and widows to reclaim their independence through various types of employment.
The UNICEF-supported group, known as 'Association Rintereb Som', provides donkey-drawn carts, which allow the women to make money by removing litter from homes in the community. Additionally, the women make soap and cosmetics using local materials. They also tend to small plots and raise crops, which they use for food and income generation during lean economic times.
Many of these women, who found themselves widowed or abandoned by their husbands, have up until now been left without the means to provide for themselves and their children.
"I lost my husband 19 years ago,” said the founder and President of Association Rintereb Som, Kabore Ouedraogo. “After he died, I was facing a difficult situation and I realized that there are women who were more vulnerable than I was. So I decided to join forces with these women – so that together we should become one – to think of probable solutions.”
|© UNICEF video|
|A UNICEF-supported women's group provides donkey-drawn carts, through which women can find employment and become self-sufficient.|
Start-up funds from UNICEF
UNICEF provided start-up funds for Ms. Ouedraogo’s group and continues to offer technical assistance and counselling to the women's association. UNICEF Representative in Burkina Faso Hervé Périès has been amazed by the results.
"Through those investments, there is really an improvement of the living conditions of the family," said Mr. Périès. "They are investing in education of the children, investing in improving the nutrition of the children. They are also investing in improving the living conditions of the families."
The women regularly hold community meetings to discuss their lives. They not only exchange stories of their children but share advice about growing food and other ways to raise needed funds to build an office for their association.
Giving back to the community
The money the women earn through their jobs goes to pay for school fees for their children, as well as for local children who have been orphaned.
“We started with 17 women. Now the association comprises around 403 women, and the number is still growing day by day," noted Ms. Ouedraogo.
This remarkable, swiftly growing group of women found themselves alone in difficult circumstances – but when they came together, they found a way to help themselves and their community.