The Organization for Women and Children (ORWOCH), with support from Oxfam Liberia, has empowered 76 women through its Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) program in three communities within Montserrado County.
The VSLA program, which is being funded through the EU Enough project, is a part of Oxfam's global campaign to end violence against women and girls by empowering survivors and at-risk victims of sexual gender-based violence (SGBV).
Those three communities include; Peace Island, Chugbor (Old Road) and Doe community.
A VSLA is a group of people who save together and take small loans from those savings. The activities of the group run in cycles normally over a one-year period, after which the accumulated savings and the loan profits are distributed back to members. But with ORWOCH, the saving cycles run for six months to enable new members form part of the group.
According to ORWOCH, Liberian women have been victimized over the period due to gender inequality and that empowering them to have their own income is necessary.
On Friday, July 9, during the loan disbursement from their second fund accumulated from the savings and loan profits, Kwekardo VSLA women appreciated ORWOCH and its partner for taking into consideration the impact of the VSLA in their lives as well as their families.
The women said when all hope was lost, the VSLA became a dependable and suitable partner, adding that they are economically empowered and self-sufficient.
Mrs. Alice Karbo, a member of Kwekardo VSLA, sharing her success story, said after the first recruitment, she was informed by a friend and she decided to join the second cycle.
“The first money I took from the VSLA was L$10,000 and I paid it back. I later took another loan to fix my business place, which I also paid back so, as we share today, I am still expecting some money that will improve my business to the next level,” Mrs. Karbo said.
“The thing I learned from VSLA is that once you take the money with the thought that it is your own money, you will pay back,” she said.
Victoria Quaqua, Executive Director, Promoting Equality and Accountability, encouraged the women during the disbursement to hold together and invest in agricultural activities that would help grow their resources.
Quaqua called on the women to help support their fellow female to run and win elections because there are good things in the law that support women, but are swept under the carpet due to limited women in the Legislature.
She also lauded the donors and implementing partners and encouraged the women to think about the future and not keep themselves down.
Comfort Somah-Dahn, Coordinator for the Oxfam EU-Enough Project, said the second disbursement of funds signified that those women have worked hard over the period with diligence and sincerity, admonishing them to remain on such path.
She further appreciated ORWOCH for bringing these women together, empowering them to be independent to say: “Enough is enough against Sexual and Gender Based-Violence.”
Hawa Varney, Executive Director Foundation of Community Youth Initiative, said the EU wants to empower more women to do something for themselves because violence against women is high in this country.
“You have been able to not only save the money, but there are other things you have learned over the period and we want you to pass it on to others. We believe this village saving forms a solidarity of sisterhood as such you should hold together to move the organization forward for the development of your community and country,” Madam Varney encouraged them.
Musa D. Kamara, ORWOCH program manager, said the women were given L$85,000 but after the disbursement, they were able to realize the amount of L$867,775 in savings.
She said the first phase of the program started in 2020 and was able to complete the first cycle and they are on the second, which indicates that women can do better when they are united including the fight against SGBV through economic empowerment.