Haoua’s Story

Caritas International Belgium Haoua’s Story

© Isabel Corthier

© Isabel Corthier

24/08/2018

“I try to pass on all my knowledge to other women”

Haoua is 40 years old and has six children. She lives in the village of Roumbouki in Niger. Haoua is in training to become a relay woman in her village and to raise awareness about malnutrition.

Haoua is 40 years old and has six children. She lives in the village of Roumbouki in Niger. Haoua is in training to become a relay woman in her village and to raise awareness about malnutrition.

Like many women in Niger, Haoua manages the household. Her husband has left temporarily to look for work in the city to make money. “It’s difficult because the men have left. I am in charge of the family now. It’s a heavy responsibility to carry all oneself and is a real problem.” For example, to collect water, Haoua travels two hours with 15 to 16 kilos of water on her head. At the village wells she sometimes has to wait two hours in line for water.

Being able to offer the best to her children

“I have a child in college, but I don’t have money so he’s not sure if he can continue his education. It was the same for me. Because of a lack of money, I had to stay in the village and a local husband was found for me,” she laughs.

Haoua wants a different life for her children. She herself would have wanted to spend more time at school. “I will always regret that I couldn’t continue. I would have wanted to be a teacher, or a nurse to at least be able to serve my community and raise awareness,” she explains.

Thanks to the EMMO project, we have understood that there are local solutions and that we can prevent extreme malnutrition.

- Haoua

A relay woman

Today she has combined her desire to learn and to pass on information through participating in relay woman training. A relay woman is someone who trains the local community in specific preventative behaviors. In her village, Haoua talks primarily about malnutrition, breastfeeding, and explains practices that can save lives.

“Thanks to the EMMO project, we have understood that there are local solutions and that we can prevent extreme malnutrition. We wash our hands after using the bathroom, and before eating. We know how to cook a porridge fortified with local ingredients,” she says.

Malnutrition and breastfeeding

Haoua explains what her daily work of raising awareness is like, and the benefits that she has noticed. “The advantages that I see today, thanks to the EMMO project, are the effective preventative malnutrition strategies: cooking demonstrations, explanations, and awareness about exclusive breastfeeding.”

However, the situation is still complicated. Take breastfeeding, for example. “Breastfeeding is still hard when you as a mother don’t have anything to eat…The mother has to have a full stomach in order to pass on her strength and vitamins.”

Supplemental support

Relay women also provide psychological support, and a listening ear. “I try to pass on all my knowledge to other women. We talk about our problems, too.”

There is room for improvement on other levels. The community members of Roumbouki have a lot of hope. “The Caritas project is going to change everything. There is hope. My husband is going to stay this year to work in the fields. I’ll have a lighter load. He’ll know how to help us, and he’ll be there. Right there. That’s a double advantage.

What can you do?

Do you want to help relay women like Haoua fight against malnutrition? Donate a bag of peanuts to families in Roumbouki. With your donation, you will contribute to a sustainable process. Once a mother has peanuts, she can feed her children and begin producing peanut oil and butter to sell. Families will stay together. You give them a future in their own village.

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