Meet Natalie, a member of ‘Amanzora’ Seed Effect Savings & Loan Group.
Natalie and her children escaped from South Sudan to a refugee camp in Uganda, but even that wasn’t safe. They had to keep moving from one place to another due to the horrifying killing, raping, and looting by soldiers at the camps.
“I was a teacher in South Sudan, but then I went to exile in Uganda. At the refugee settlement, we were chased by soldiers who tried to abduct my children. Six innocent people were killed while I was teaching there.”
The bleak situation continued when her husband abandoned her there with her seven children.
“My husband went back to South Sudan for another wife. I had seven small kids, and I was alone. I could not go back. But God is great. We resettled in a new refugee camp and I joined a church. We built a house in the compound and they said, ‘Mama you stay here with the young children.’
So there I was working. I was teaching, borrowing land, digging with the young ones. It was such a struggle, oh, it was a struggle. I did it all by myself and the hand of God.”
Safe housing, considered by some to be a basic human right, eluded her once again.
Her house was burned down, and they were chased away on foot with gunshots ringing in their ears.
“When we remember what happened, we are still traumatized. It was terrible and very stressful. But things are getting better. It’s been four years and I am working for my kids’ education. We need them to learn for our future. If our children stay uneducated, who will be our ministers? Who will be our teachers?”
Eventually, she was able to connect with a Seed Effect Savings & Loan Group.
“I was filled with joy. We were told that we would be trained on how to save money, how to build friends, and how to share the Bible. So we started to save money.”
For example, Natalie says that at first the group saved 10,000 Uganda shillings (UGX) each week. Then, by pooling their money, it grew to 300,000 UGX. Then 600,000 UGX. The amount increased based on the interest they paid. Eventually, they had enough to borrow for small items to sell. Natalie borrowed money to make charcoal and to buy salt, and is planning to add sugar, tea leaves, maize, beans, and onions with her next share out. With the money she makes from selling these small items, she is able to help pay for her children’s and her grandchildren’s education.
“Before Seed Effect, I didn’t know how to do business. I didn’t know how to get money. If I borrowed money from a neighbor, I had to pay it back after two days.
But with Seed Effect, I have one month to bring it back with interest. I am free to use that money. No one will stop me. Now, because of Seed Effect, we have our own bank. We made a social fund that has paid for a funeral and helped with health care costs and medicine. It is a grant, we do not have to pay it back. We are praying very hard that God would grow Seed Effect and give them more as this continues to increase our power.”
The Savings & Loan Group has helped establish meaningful community and fellowship amongst the refugees.
“The best thing about our group is the togetherness. You are sharing the Bible together. If you have experienced trauma, when you share the Bible together, it will reduce the pain. We share the word of God and it helps us. Thanks to God! God bless you!”
Natalie, like many others, is eager to learn more and to increase her ability to provide for her family.
Seed Effect is in the process of finding qualified people to teach them soap making and other skills.
“So now we have learned a lot. You have taught us a lot about saving and business, and so now we are able to do it for ourselves. We are looking forward to getting more knowledge and more skills.”
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