This is a guest post from Plant with Purpose
The seasons are changing all too quickly. In July I was shocked to see stores discounting their summer wares and stocking shelves with school supplies. Sales for back-to-school shopping sprees are popping up everywhere. Some parents celebrate the end of the summer while others grasp at these final days of freedom. But few of us consider the complications that families living in poverty experience when autumn rolls around.
Maria Hamanimara encountered the humiliation of having her son sent home from class because she could not pay the school fees. She had to face the reality that the cost of pencils, paper, uniforms, and tuition was beyond her grasp. Maria lives in Burundi, a small East African county where the annual gross national income per person is only $280 (for reference, the GNI per person in the USA is $52,340).
Knowing that education is foundational for her son’s future, Maria worked hard to find a solution. She remembers, “I found a way to borrow money from a family member to keep him in school, but I didn’t have any way of repaying that loan.” A long-term solution seemed impossible. But then hope arrived in the form of a neighbor, who invited Maria to join a savings group.
Through a Plant With Purpose savings group, formally known as a Village Savings and Loan Association , Maria received access to loans. For the first time in her life, she had a safe place to save her money and even earn interest. After paying her son’s school fees, Maria decided to take out another loan and started a business selling homemade crafts. And as she implemented the gardening skills taught by Plant With Purpose, her land began to produce an abundance of produce, which she used to feed her family and sell at market.
Maria recalls her surprise when the savings cycle ended. She had saved about $60 USD through the group, an unusually high dollar amount in Burundi. With that money, “I was able to repay both loans, pay the school fees for my children, and I had some left over to invest in the next savings cycle.”
When put to the test, moms around the world prove ingenious, resilient, and strong. Today, Maria continues to make the most of her resources. This fall, all of her children will be enrolled in school. Not only is Maria building financial stability, she’s investing in her children’s future with the greatest gift of all: education.
For thirty years, Plant With Purpose has invested in rural families who live in some of the poorest places in the world. Simple trainings in organic gardening, access to finances, and encouragement along the way is all these families need to get ahead. To help celebrate Plant With Purpose’s thirtieth anniversary, consider Giving to Grow 30 family farms. Learn more here.