"Thanks to Plan International's Micro-Credit scheme, now I can afford to send my children to school"

Pauline Sawadougou lives with her husband and 5 children in the village of Guegere, Burkina Faso. Pauline is determined to send all her children to school, no matter what sacrifices she has to make to achieve that, and until recently these sacrifices were often extreme.

Pauline and her husband depend entirely on small scale farming to support their family. They grow crops of millet and maize; which they use to feed the family, selling whatever excess they produce to generate a small income.

In the past, when extra cash was needed when a child fell ill, or when school fees were due, the family would cut down on the number of daily meals and sell the food to cover these basic expenses. The only other alternative was to borrow from neighbours, but with most of the community living with the same challenges, this was often not possible.

When Pauline Sawadougou heard about Plan International’s initiative to support Savings and Loans Groups in her village, she was hopeful that this project might provide a solution to the constant financial problems her family faced. She joined the Rel Wende group along with 32 other local women, and facilitated by the dynamic president Zambre Soplange, the group embarked on trainings to learn the basic operating mechanisms of Village Savings and Loans groups. Each member was given a pass book to record money saved and loans received, and the group was given a basic kit, with a savings box with three separate locks, a calculator, and stationery.

The group has now been in existence for 10 months and meet every two weeks to add to their savings, and apply for loans from the growing fund. So far Pauline has used the loans facility to pay for her children’s’ education, which was particularly necessary when in September her eldest daughter started secondary school, a source of immense pride for her mother. Pauline is delighted that the family could afford the extra costs of secondary education, without sacrificing other basic necessities, or going hungry.