Every Monday afternoon, when school has finished, 22 women from the local community meet there. They call themselves the Faraja Women’s Group. “Faraja” is Swahili for comfort or relief; the relief of discomfort or distress.
In African culture, it is the work of the woman to find enough food to feed the whole family. But, nowadays, this has become so hard for them. A few of the women put their heads together and came up with the idea that, in order to make that task easier, they would start a group with the main purpose of supporting each other in terms of food. The Faraja Group is now registered locally with the Siha District council (no.HWC380).
Every week when they meet, the women every bring 3,000 Tsh each (about £1). The money is kept securely, sometimes at the school as the group feels it is safe there, and then taken to the bank the following day. It is used in the following ways:
1. If one of the women, or a member of her family, is sick, she is given an interest free loan. She then has to pay this back weekly over a three month period.
2. Food is bought cheaply in Moshi, the local town, and sold to the women at wholesale prices. Again, they are able to have an interest free loan to purchase the food and pay the money back over a three week period.
3. The money may also be used to provide a loan to the women to meet the cost of their children’s education. It is also interest free.
4. A woman may be given a loan towards the cost of setting up a small business. In this case, interest is paid.
At the end of their financial year, the women share out any profit equally to everyone in the group. Some have children at Arise School and they contribute cooking oil to the school kitchen. In recent months, they did a great job working on the construction of the fourth classroom by collecting rocks and filling the foundations.
The Faraja Group is fulfilling an important role in the community. The women enjoy socialising with each other, getting new ideas and learning new life skills. They are improving their family’s health and have asked the school to find health specialists to talk to them about health issues. They say that, without Arise School, they would not exist.