Hussein Ahmed and Worknesh have been married for more than 20 years. They experienced many problems in their marriage. Now their relationship has improved significantly as a result of their participation in the 'Gender and youth empowerment in horticulture markets' (GYEM) project funded by Comic Relief.
Hussein and Worknesh were selected as champion farmers for the GYEM project. As a part of that, Hussein took part in a training session. SNV brought together champion famers, men and women, from different villages who all experience problems in their household such as alcoholism or domestic abuse.
The champion famers create a vision on what they would like to reach in their lives, such as a car or a better house, and the steps they need to take to realise their dream. As a part of this process, participants discuss their household situation, for example their relationship with their spouse and the division of labour at home, and what changes are needed to achieve their goals.
It is essential that the vision and steps are formulated by the farmers themselves, as they are intrinsically motivated to achieve their own aims. The workshop empowers the participants to implement the steps needed to achieve their goals; allows them to discover solutions to their problems they didn’t think of before and provides supports. The GYEM project connects participants to others who can help them, such as community workers, trade and credit unions. We also provide follow-up with mentoring and coaching. The participants form peer support networks that allow them to share their problems and get advice from each other. They are encouraged to share their plans with people in their community to increase their own motivation and show that change is possible.
We visit Worknesh and Hussein some months after the training. Hussein now has a clear vision for his family. Hussein and Worknesh have used some of their savings to buy and raise some sheep. They sold the sheep for profit and used that to buy a calf and rent a small plot of land. On the land, they have planted vegetables.
They tell us that Hussein’s relationship with Worknesh and their children has greatly improved. When Hussein would ask Worknesh for money to spend when he met his friends, often Worknesh would refuse. Hussein would beat her, telling her off, saying that she had no right to tell him what to do. This has slowly changed after the workshop. Now, Hussein listens better to his wife, respects her views more, he hangs out less with his friends and chews less khat.
He regrets his previous extravagant spending and not listening to Worknesh. “All that money was wasted. It might have changed our lives.” Hussein and Worknesh use the lessons from the training and their situation and relationship are improving. Together they can now plan a better future.
Hussein will continue to share the tools and lessons he learnt with his community so that many more can improve their situation.