Belief changes things. Belief in one’s value. Belief in one’s capacity. Belief in one’s ability to impact the world around them for the better. Belief changes relationships. One of the often overlooked but most significant impacts on the lives of Savings Group (SHG) members is the benefit to marriage relationships. As husbands and wives begin saving and believing their lives can improve, and they are in control, they often see one another in a different light.
In one Savings Group in Southeast Ethiopia, a woman member once described how her marriage changed as a result of participating in the group. “Before I was saving, my husband viewed me as a parasite. But after I joined the group, he sees me as equal.” With the improvements brought about in their daily life, husbands and wives are able to see one another more positively. Husbands are able to appreciate the role their wives play in caring for their children. Wives have greater respect for the work husbands do in the field and marketplace. It may seem odd, but in a subsistence farming culture, where a ‘closed’ worldview often prevails, even family members see one another as threats. But as savings group members see their provisions become more plentiful, and the threats of daily life lessen, couples see what is possible with the resources around them and are able to live hope-filled rather than fearful.
Last year we met Tebiya and Jemal. Tebiya’s membership in a savings group has given fresh perspective to their 23 year marriage. Tebiya’s countenance has changed and Jamal finds her ‘very happy’. Their improved living conditions includes a larger shelter and investment in sheep with a loan from her SHG. In addition, they envision new opportunities to educate their children. These choices enrich their marriage as they look to bless their family’s next generation. Savings Groups are a holistic initiative in the truest sense in how they affect so many aspects of a person or family’s life. Individual finances, personal well-being and esteem, community relationships, and Marriages!
Help us share the love this Valentine’s Day. By making a contribution the West Arsi Savings Group program, you can help improve marriages in Southeast Ethiopia. For $25 – less than the cost of a dozen roses – not only will you help men and women learn the powerful tool of routine saving and how to use local resources for local challenges, but marriages will grow stronger in the process.