Jeni Liunokas, who is Mama Jeni to her friends and neighbors, is a 41-year-old mother of three children and an active member of the Fetomone women’s savings group in Enonabuasa village, West Timor. Mama Jeni and her neighbors started their group because of the Disciples of Christ Week of Compassion-funded Berdaya initiative, which is one part of the Timor Zero Hunger program. One aim of Timor Zero Hunger is for families to have more and more nutritious food, especially a variety of vegetables and protein-rich eggs and chicken meat. Another aim to help women find opportunities through Berdaya, which means empowerment in Indonesian, to improve their lives in other ways.
Since starting their group in Enonabuasa, members have developed three business units: savings by and loans to group members; farming; and weaving. And, with CWS support they have organized several workshops to help them increase, and better manage, their income.
Before joining the Fetomone savings group, Mama Jeni’s earning were modest from occasionally selling her hand-woven textiles and regularly selling celery from her garden, which she took to the local market twice a month. Her husband raises pigs and cultivates mung beans, too; he is a village health volunteer, too. So, the family is doing alright and their younger children do go to the local school. They were even able to save enough money for the oldest child to manage the $13/month tuition at a teacher training college in the nearby town, Soe.
So, on balance, Mama Jeni’s family does well; but their daily life is still difficult. And, like most moms, Mama Jeni wants a better life for her whole family. She wants to be more secure in case of an emergency – like longer or more severe drought, which Enonabuasa and all villages in this part of the world are increasingly experiencing.
Also like many women, Mama Jeni was ready and waiting to change her situation even more for the better. With her micro loan from Fetomone and some technical support from CWS, she opened a small kiosk next to her house, where she now sells homemade snacks. “I learned to make snacks from pumpkins, sweet potatoes and bananas,” explains Mama Jeni. “I’ve earned almost four-times as much money (gross) as the 50,000 Rupiah I borrowed from Fetomone and, after I bought a food processor so my snack-making is more efficient, I repaid my loan in full of interest. My routine income is higher now, and I am saving money especially so my younger children can have more education, like their older sister, if they want”.
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