Author: Foday Sesay, Nurturing Opportunities for Women Supervisor
Hawa Bockarie is a mother of four school-aged children in Majoe and was a participant in the Nurturing Opportunities for Women Program (NOW) in 2017. Hawa generates most of her income through farming, and now uses the profits from this to care for her children’s education.
Prior to joining the NOW program, Hawa was more concerned with her children adhering to traditional cultural practices, such as finding an early marriage, rather than their education. She said, “I never had value for western education for my children. All I cared for was our traditions and my daughters getting married as early as possible because I thought education was too expensive.” Hawa’s husband Moinina also had no education, and their lack of literacy made things challenging for their children. Their main concern was to provide food in the home and to have more children. “I was frequently becoming pregnant and bearing children all the time,” Hawa lamented. Two of Hawa’s children got married at a very early age. She claimed that, “I regretted sending my children into early marriage, but I had no awareness of the importance of children’s education.” When Hawa began to attend sessions in the NOW Program, she started to see the importance of children’s education. She began to see the value, and consequently she set her primary personal financial goal as her children’s education.
When Hawa presented this goal to her husband, he laughed at her and did not take this commitment seriously. Initially Hawa was bothered. “I became annoyed with my husband, because I thought I was doing something that would bring total change to our family. However my husband did not see the light.” From there, she started working hard to make her husband understand the importance of educating their children. “I started sharing my workbook with my husband and explaining some of the lessons I was learning in the sessions. His interest in the NOW program grew, and he began to value children’s education.”
When Hawa’s husband Moinina attended the first NOW session open to families, he started advising Hawa to use the agricultural calendar, a picture based budgeting tool developed for the NOW program, in order to plan and save for their children’s education. Hawa proudly stated that, “My husband told me to start saving and send all our children to school in the next academic year. Currently all four of them are in school, even the married ones, two in the big city and two in the village school.” Hawa stated that with good communication and a shared understanding with her husband, they were able to send their children to school.