Mima Abagissa is a member of Birhan Saving and Credit Cooperative in Yem Special woreda. She is also one of the leaders of the Women Watch Groups in the Area. Both community based institutions are initiated and supported by ActionAid.
Before the advent of ActionAid to her area, Mima was a house wife and led a hand to mouth type of life. Mima said that her relation with the Women Watch Group gave her the awareness and confidence to participate in these and later in the leadership of many community based organizations. She is, especially, happy about the achievements of the Women Watch Group she leads as a Chairwoman. She said, “Awareness rising and trainings we attended first changed our understanding of harmful traditional practices like early marriage and abduction. Gradually, we were also equipped to fight these. After ActionAids intervention over 14 years now, our community has outlawed such harmful practices. Accordingly, these are considerably reduced in our area. Members are also considered as community custodians as against in the beginning when we were accused as treats to the culture ”
Mima also said that the skills trainings and loans from the Saving and Credit Cooperative enabled her to own assets that changed her life . She recalled a time when her family led a life of destitution. ”My husband sold our house as he needed money. This made the family homeless. We rented dilapidated cooking shade from one of the neighbors. We had no asset not even a chicken. After I joined the cooperative and saved some money, I took a loan of 800 birr(about 50 USD at that time) and bought a cow with 500 birr. I used the balance of 300 birr to buy a plot of land where I grow grass for cattle. People also use it as cover for their roof tops of their huts. My income spared my family from hunger and homelessness. The greatest thing that happened to me is that I was enabled to buy my house back. ”
“I have also bought a land that I rent out to farmers for crop sharing. The farmers cultivate the land using their own seed and fertilizer and pay back part of the crop they produce as rent fee. I grow maize, and teff to feed my family on my other land. Many of the members of both institutions are capacitated to change lives of respective families like me.”