It was just over 6 years ago that I first visited Africa Development Promise’s cooperative partners. At that point I was returning to Africa to visit friends I had made when I spent three months in Rwanda and Uganda in 2012.
In between those two trips, I met Monica and had become interested in her work in East Africa and had volunteered to take photos and videos in the field which also provided me with the opportunity to learn more about the programs. After visiting the Rwandan women and their greenhouses and the Ugandan cooperative and their mushroom growing house, plus hearing their stories and dedication to helping their families and communities, I knew this was an organization that I wanted to continue to support. When Monica asked me to join the board it was an easy decision. And that decision led to my returning to East Africa the following year for an even closer look at the market-based approach of ADP.
Over the past 6 years on the board, there has been so much I have learned about the challenges of working in developing countries and the issues that these women face. But that is not what sticks with me. What I think of most when I think of ADP is the dedication and resilience of these women. They are determined to make a better life for their families and especially for their children.
We know that rural women are usually the poorest of the poor because in East Africa they often have limited access to credit, many times cannot own land and are most susceptible to climate change. The majority practice rain-fed subsistence farming because they cannot access extension service nor appropriate equipment and inputs to increase their yields. And yet, we also know that when women earn an income, they pour 90% back into their families.
I am proud to have been part of an organization that is focused on getting women the tools they need to not only survive but thrive–and in a sustainable way that will serve them and their families for years to come.