Adeso Initiative Gives Mother of Seven a New Lease of Life
Alai Kawack is a South Sudanese returnee who travelled back to her home area from Khartoum, in the Republic of Sudan, in 2010. She now lives in Mangar Akot village, in Aweil North District, Northern Bahr el Gazal. At 30 years of age, she heads her household and lives with her seven children in a small tukul (house structure) made of plastic sheets and local materials.
Mangar Akot is a village with a total population of 500 households and is a new settlement comprised solely of returnees. The major livelihood for this community is the sale of firewood, although this comes with its own disadvantage due to the large number of snakes in the area. According to Alai, the major problems present in her community are the lack of income generating activities, health facilities, clean water and education opportunities for her children. “At the moment, most of these returnees rely on assistance provided by organizations such as Adeso,” she says.
Before Alai received any support from Adeso, she lived in complete destitution, she had no food for her children, very little money, and the prevalence of snakes in her surrounding environment exposed her to a lot of danger which limited her ability to make money through sale of firewood. As a result, she opted to cook mandazi (the local equivalent of donuts) for sale to local people.
As Alai explained, ”When cash for work started in my village, I was selected as one the beneficiaries and got engaged in micro projects such as clearing bushes for cultivation, clearing of community roads and fencing of the school for a period of 3 months. When the cash was paid I used the money on basic food, seeds for cultivation, detergents, and medicine for my children. I also received a business development grant that I used to expand my mandazi selling into a small restaurant business.”
Before the development grant from Adeso, Alai says there were days when her children slept hungry, “I had no food to give them and even considered travelling back to the refugee camps in Khatourm,” she recalls sadly. However, due to the investments she made with the money she received from Adeso, Alai’s business is thriving and her future and that of her children is looking bright. “I am happy as my children no longer sleep hungry and there are less snakes due to cutting back some of the bush for agriculture. Adeso taught me how to do work and gave me business training. I have now accumulated some savings and have a new future plan to continue building my business.”
The Livelihood Support to Returnees and Host Communities (LSRHC) initiative was started by Adeso with funding from USAID in July 2011. The initiative is a response to the increased need for food assistance following the return of former refugees to South Sudan. Currently, Adeso is implementing the second phase of the program that is expected to end in June 2013.