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Kathy: From Poverty to Profit

Region: West Africa
Competency: Agricultural Development

“I am overwhelmed by the work of ILAD. The way they work with us, it really pleases me. It gives me such joy. I don’t know how to describe it. I don’t know how to say ‘thank you’. The work is great. It has brought a lot of benefits to my life. Now I am fine. My heart is gladdened and I am free of worry.”

It is a warm day when we sit with Kathy to hear her experiences with the ILAD project in Togo. Her kind eyes and wide smile engage us as we sit in the shade of a mango tree. Our team has spent the last few days documenting the work of ILAD in rural Togo, and we are excited to hear the way Kathy’s life has been impacted through a variety of ILAD programs.

Kathy, like so many other Togolese women, grew up poor and never attended school. As a young girl, she learned to fetch water at the river, help with the farming, and take care of younger children. When she married, she moved to her husband’s village, but life remained very much the same. Hard. She says “Life before we had the programs of ILAD, well, we did not have a lot of benefits from our work. We suffered a lot. My husband and I? Our efforts came to nothing and our children suffered too.”

One day she heard an announcement for a literacy class in her language and she decided to attend. When she began, Kathy could not read or write or do basic math, but with hard work, dedication, and a committed teacher, she began to grow in literacy. At the class she learned that ILAD, the group providing the class, had also begun helping farmers to grow profitable crops, and was offering loans to farmers who would apply new farming techniques and grow pineapples. She and her husband decided to participate. They received such a profit from their crops that they were able to open a savings account through ILAD’s financial services, and now when they need money for the children’s school, or for medicine, it is available.

Kathy tells about the benefit of the water well ILAD drilled for her village. She laughs as she says “And for the water well, before there was no water in our village. We used to suffer to go to the river and fetch a bucket of water. We would have to filter it because it was from the river. We could use just a small amount to bathe the children. But now we don’t worry about water anymore. We are so happy. If I go to the field, I can come back and fetch water at the well and come to the house and use water to bathe. I can get the amount I want. There is no more saying “don’t bathe”. We don’t have the problem of water now. I am so happy because of this.”

Through ILAD’s literacy, agricultural development, financial services, and water initiatives, Kathy’s life, and the lives of others in her village, has improved dramatically. She tells us that “now, since we met ILAD, our lives have changed. We even have a son in University in the Capital. If you see him, you would ask if my husband and I, who live in the village, could have born this child.”