“Now I Can Sustain Myself and My Children!”

In June, there were celebrations as 44 young women graduated from their skills training course in Bensonville, Liberia. At Mothers’ Club skills training, these local women learnt hairdressing, pastry making, food preservation, soap making, tailoring and other handicrafts.

The idea of Mothers’ Club is to teach local women in vulnerable position livelihood skills, what makes running a small business possible. For example, making and selling soap brings important extra income to women, alongside small scale farming. Running small businesses help low income families afford to pay for their children’s school fees. Even if it was not much, the extra income makes life remarkably easier and creates hope for the future.

  • On the graduation day, Bensonville Mothers’ Club was decorated with beautiful handicrafts made by the students of the skills training class. Claudius Blamoh, the financial assistant for Finn Church Aid, was admiring the quilt with Liberian coat of arms, made by Tenneh Singbah

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  • Sarah Jones, 43, studied tailoring and food preservation at Bensonville Mothers’ Club. She has seven children, and small scale farming is not enough to sustain the whole family.
    Now Sarah can use the sewing machine at Mothers’ Club. She has made dozens of school uniforms. “Learning to sew has changed my life! Now I can be useful and produce beautiful things“, she says. Sarah dreams of saving enough money to buy her own sewing machine.

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  • Olivia Kerkula, 24, studied food preservation and crocheting at Bensonville Mothers’ Club. She is planning to start selling her own products now. Hot pepper sauce and palm butter are especially popular products everywhere in Liberia.

    Olivia dreams about going back to school and getting a good education for her daughter Edna, who is now three years old. “I believe that education is the key to develop the society,” she states.

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  • Lemue Kaine, 26, studied pastry making and quilt making at Bensonville Mothers’ Club. “We also learn business skills here. I have learnt to plan my own finances, and now I can sustain myself,” Lemue says.

    At the Mothers’ Club, women and children’s rights are also an important part of the training. Lemue tells that now she understands why it is important to report all acts of abuse to the police.

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  • Irene Togbah, 28, studied hairdressing at Bensonville Mothers’ Club. In addition, she says she’s learnt to plan her future.

    “My next step is to find a job,” Irene says with determination in her voice. “Now by doing hairdressing, I can sustain myself and my children.”

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  • Tenneh Singbah, 38, studied quilt making at Bensonville Mothers’ Club. After graduating, she is now planning to continue and to become more professional in producing quality quilts. Mothers’ Club provides the graduates with materials, and when the product is ready for sale, the profit will be shared between the quilt’s makers.

    “Now I feel proud,” Tenneh says, as she can finally afford to pay the school fees of her five children.

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  • Sarah Kolleh, 20, studied food preservation at Bensonville Mothers’ Club. “I can make delicious pepper sauce! Now I will start selling my products,” she plans.

    “Mothers’ Club is a good place. We learn so many useful skills and we can bring this knowledge to our community,” Sarah reflects.

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  • Bendu Brimah, 40, studied pastry making and tailoring at Bensonville Mothers’ Club.

    “Learning these skills has changed my life. I will encourage other women to develop their skills. Everything I learnt here is making my life easier,” Bendu tells. “I am now a busy woman. I want to learn more and improve my skills.

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The Mothers’ Clubs in different counties of Liberia are part of the Empowerment for Girls and Women in Post-war Liberia project, run by Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE). Bensonville Mothers’ Club is supported by Finn Church Aid.

At the moment, a state of emergency is declared in the country because of Ebola. We are currently waiting for information from our cooperation partners how to continue with the programmes.

Text: Ulla Tarkka
Photos and interviews: Claudius Blamoh ja Ulla Tarkka