Author: Foday Sesay, Nurturing Opportunities for Women Supervisor
Mohamed Ngegbai (pictured right) is a senior Pastor who operates his own church in the community of Pejewa. His wife Jeneba participated in the Nurturing Opportunities for Women (NOW) program. Mr. Ngegbai has lived and worked in his community for the past 20 years and he is also part of the Community Advisory Committee. This committee does not form part of the traditional leadership, but is a group selected by the community leaders to be consulted on important decision making for all community projects. This is a well-regarded position, rewarded to those who have contributed to the community.
From this privileged position, Mr Ngegbai witnessed all the activities and groups that had been organized in the community, whether by community leaders, men, or women he was always disappointed. “I have never come across a successful group having been organized either by men or women in this community. Most of the groups that were organized in the community have been dissolved due to lack of accountability, lack of transparency or mostly because the women have been marginalized.” Mohamed stated, “Pejewa is a large community and there has not been any existing group in operation for the past years I have been here. The economic situation is always backward.” Mohamed said that, “The community has not experienced total unity across all sectors of its inhabitants. They lacked respect for each other and everybody was only concentrating on their own small family which has brought division in the homes.” He sadly said, “Even God’s words are not being adhered to in the community because of the economic depression and disunity.”
In 2016, when the NOW program entered in Pejewa, Mr. Ngegbai’s wife participated in the program. The Pastor regularly attending the family sessions (pictured left), where husbands are invited to participate. He learned so many lessons, including conflict management in the home; how to improve good communication; appropriate way of savings, budgeting, planning; and better decision making on household finances. “The NOW message has gone far and wide in the community and people are listening to the NOW women.” It is through this NOW program that a group of women came together to form an evolving women’s working group. This group consists of 40 women who contribute financially every month, at the end of a year the group purchases household items such as kitchen utensils for the members of the group. While originally set up and managed by a NOW participant, there are now three of these successful savings groups across the community.
Through this group, women are able to take greater responsibility and share the burden of providing for the family with their husbands. According to Mr. Ngegbai’s wife Jeneba this group arose from a session in the NOW curriculum where the participants were asked to set goals for themselves, seeing where they wanted to be in five years. The group planned to take on greater responsibilities in the home as they became stronger every day. All of the husbands are in support of this group, as they see it fostering growth and building the confidence of the individual members. At last an example of a flourishing group may be seen in the community of Pejewa.