Guest blogger Eskinder Negash is the Director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement at the Administration for Children and Families.
On March 8, nations around the globe commemorate International Women’s Day with events and ceremonies.
This day spotlights women’s economic, political and social achievements. The United Nations proclaimed this year’s theme, “Empower Rural Women – End Hunger and Poverty,” to focus on the important role rural women play to achieve food and nutrition security, generate income, and improve the livelihoods and well-being of their communities.
ACF’s programs have helped many women in both urban and rural settings lift themselves and their families out of poverty.
Women like Amina Mohamud. Amina, 34, is the mother of eight children ranging in age from 5 to 19.
She fled her home country of Somalia at age 19 due to ethnic persecution. She spent nine years in refugee camps in Kenya until her family was resettled to Boise, Idaho, in 2005.
In 2010, she began working in her husband Yussuf’s plot, part of the Idaho Office of Refugees’ Global Gardens project, funded by ACF’s Office of Refugee Resettlement.
Amina had the primary responsibility for selling the family’s produce at the local farmers’ market. In 2011, she decided to cultivate her own plot after receiving grant assistance from ACF’s Office of Refugee Resettlement’s Refugee Agricultural Partnership Program.
With help from her children, Amina produced vegetables for the weekly Capital City Public Market, Global Gardens’ CSA (community supported agriculture), and several wholesale customers.
She learned to grow, harvest, wash and package vegetables for future sale.
Amina can now complete her harvest by herself and deliver the produce to storage. While running this business, she has managed to improve her English, math and driving skills.
What’s more, Amina decided to use her cooking skills to increase the revenue from the farm. With Global Gardens’ help, she secured a small business loan to buy a fryer and other supplies and now sells homemade African Sambusas at the farmers’ market.
She can continue to sell Sambusas after the growing season is over, thus extending her income into the fall and winter months.
This year Amina used her farm income not only to pay her usual household bills, but also to pay for her oldest daughter Shamsi’s wedding. Amina’s success is a testimony to how rural women achieving self sufficiency helps them and their communities.
Find out more about the Refugee Agricultural Partnership Program.