“My name is Namsio. I have been a member of a savings group for three years in my neighborhood in Bouar. Now I have finished three years of saving money, a few francs at a time, and at the end of each year I was able to make an investment that has changed my life and the lives of my whole family. Thank you to the Lutherans who made this possible.”
Although this is a loose translation, her words to me were essentially like these. Namsio is a Muslim woman. She and her husband and several children live in a crowded neighborhood with no electricity, no running water, no sanitation and nearly impassable streets. Houses are little thatched-roof shelters with mud walls and floors. After Namsio’s first year in the savings group she had saved enough to purchase a sewing machine, which she joyfully uses to make clothes for her family and sell to neighbors. After the second year she bought four goats that have now expanded to 17. A crude pen in her small yard keeps the goats confined and safe from thieves. After the third year of savings she bought a second sewing machine. Now this entrepreneur runs a small business, bringing in money that has probably tripled or quadrupled the family’s previous income. I had a remarkable experience just visiting this family, videotaping the enterprise and seeing the joy and gratitude on her face as she shared with me her life with new hope and possibilities for her and her children.