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The Journey of Life

“If life is a journey, then the lifetime of every living being is a story worthy telling and sharing,” Sineya Banda said as she prepared to tell me about her life’s journey and how it has made her believe that everything in life has its own time.

Sineya was born 53 years ago and raised in a village in the rural, tobacco-growing district of Kasungu, Malawi. Similar to the experience of many girls in this area, Sineya’s parents didn’t prioritize girls’ education. She began school at the age of 11 and dropped out of school in standard two.

“I had no choice but accept my parents’ idea that I must get married,” Sineya shared. She knew that even if she could have protested the wish of her parents, it would not have changed anything; her parents were poor tobacco tenants who were trying desperately to care for eight children.

As a result, Sineya was married young and gave birth to four children. Her husband died in 1999. She explained, “Marriage was already hell due to the lack of finances. My husband also lost hope, and he died after a long illness, leaving me with the huge responsibility of taking care of the children.”

Sineya remarried in 2004, but later divorced her second husband after having another child.

“For four years, I got so confused, and I did not know what to do with my children. Two of my early teenage children opted to drop out of school and get married because of financial problems. While in that predicament of life, I heard my friend telling me of CARE’s initiative, the Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA).” She paused and continued, “I did not hesitate to join it. I told myself that I have nothing to lose in trying it out, for I was clueless of how to get out of poverty.”

Participation in the local VSLA group has dramatically changed the life of Sineya and the lives of her children. When Sineya joined the CARE VSLA, she learned how to save money jointly with other program participants, and was able to take out small loans to begin investing in livestock.

“I wish CARE could have been introduced to my life early. I could have been somewhere by now – look and see what I have managed within these recent years,” she paused as she pointed to the 15 pigs she now owns.

Apart from her livestock, Sineya has also managed to support her daughter Evelester, who recently completed her Malawi School Certificate of Education at Santhe Secondary School in Kasungu.

“My goal now is to build a burnt brick house with iron sheets and support my grandchildren with their education needs,” Sineya concluded, smiling.