Huluager (Hulu) Badebo is a 45-year-old widowed mother of six. When her sixth child was born, Hulu’s husband passed away, leaving her alone to raise her six children. Before The Hunger Project entered her community at Mesqan Epicenter, Hulu worked as a day laborer, taking whatever work she could get in order to keep food on the table and pay for her children’s school. She and her six children lived together in a traditional small, round hut with one large room, a straw roof and dirt floors.
When The Hunger Project first came to her community, although Hulu and her family were living in extreme poverty and she did not always know how she would provide the next meal for her kids, Hulu and her neighbors were suspicious. “When The Hunger Project first came, we were very suspicious and we were thinking that they would give us a loan then they will steal our house and we were going to go bankrupt. We were so suspicious. Then we found after two years that it is very useful for us.”
Hulu first engaged with The Hunger Project through the Microfinance program at Mesqan Epicenter. She went to trainings on savings, loans, and business. Her first loan from The Hunger Project was 300 birr ($14 USD) which she used to buy a pregnant sheep. When her sheep gave birth, she sold the lamb and made her initial investment back. With her next loans, she did the same thing, always putting her profit into savings at the SACCO bank. Soon, she had enough to switch to raising livestock and dairy cows. Her business is expanding every year allowing her to save more and more and invest more and more into her growing business. She began with no savings and barely enough money to pay for food, now she is a successful business woman able to take out loans up to 4,000 birr ($195 USD).
During these years of building her business, Hulu used her savings to buy a new house to replace her traditional hut. Little by little, she got closer to her dream house. Starting with just a small savings, she would buy nails, one by one. Soon, as her business became more successful, she was able to purchase a tin roof to replace the straw roof. It wasn’t long until she was able to afford the resources and labor to build the structure. She eventually expanded to another house and a small building for the kitchen. Hulu plans to continue improving her business as well as buying a new, bigger house. She says, “Next time you come, I will have a new house and this will be where the cattle live.”
Hulu now serves on the Microfinance committee and she works to encourage other women to take the mfp trainings and to take out loans. She says a lot of people have seen her and her friends and the change in them due to The Hunger Project and the mfp program.
Hulu did not only benefit from The Hunger Project’s microfinance program, she also benefitted from The Hunger Project’s nursery school, secondary school, health program, women’s empowerment program, wells, and Functional Adult Literacy (FAL) program. She says The Hunger Project also brought a nursery school and improved the primary school, expanding it to secondary school, which her kids benefited from. Before, there was no nearby nursery or secondary school. She also says there are no child marriages anymore, everyone gives birth at the health center instead of at home, and harmful traditional practices and procedures are not happening due to The Hunger Project’s health trainings. Before The Hunger Project, she had to walk miles to the main town, Butajira, to get clean water each day. Now there is fresh water at the nearby epicenter, though she requests additional wells since her community needs more safe water. Finally, she has learned to read and write Amharic through the FAL program. Literacy has given her more opportunities in her business and in her role as a leader in the community. She now acts as an animator for the health and sanitation program. She is responsible for reaching out to a group of 30 women, whom she teaches basic health, nutrition, child health, and public health lessons that she first learns from The Hunger Project.