In Sierra Leone, 65% of women involved in petty trading are either single parents or widows. In order to improve their chances of economic success many women form associations so they can look out for each other’s welfare and exchange ideas.
With support from Seed Programs International, Healey International Relief Foundation through our in-country partnership with Caritas Freetown has been able to provide quality seeds to several women’s empowerment groups in Sierra Leone.
Ishmeal Charles, HealeyIRF in-country program manager noted, “Quality seeds are very hard to find in our country and they are often too expensive for the women’s associations to purchase. So this donation of seeds is very much needed and appreciated.”
Lettuce, cabbage, and carrot seeds were provided and the women planted the seeds until they became seedlings. They then transferred them to the main garden bed.
They said that lettuce in particular is difficult to grow as it needs a lot of water and good soil. But they watered the lettuce three times a day and had a very successful crop.
The women are now interested in expanding their crops and want to grow radishes, cucumbers, onions, and parsley.
In Their Own Words
My name is Mary Koroma, I am a member of the Gbotema Women’s Group. The word “Gbotema” means “Help Them”. We formed this group so we can help each other grow. With the contributions we raise among ourselves, we sometimes give loans to members who may want capital to start up a business and pay with minimal interest.
This is our only source of livelihood. Our women’s group acknowledges receiving lettuce and carrot seeds from Healey Foundation. We are delighted because upon nursing the seeds and after transplanting, we realized that the seeds were more productive and easier to manage as they grew compared to the other varieties we have here. We use the proceeds from these crops to take care of our children.
My name is Adama Kargbo, I live in Gloucester village and I am a widow. I am the Chairlady for the Progressive Women’s Group in Gloucester. I have four children and two grandchildren all living with me. I am only able to take care of them through my garden work. I used the proceeds of the seeds Caritas and Healey Foundation gave us to pay my children’s school fees, buy uniforms, provide lunch and transport to go to school, and provide food for the entire family.
Since I did not buy these particular seed grains, this reduced production cost increased my profit margin as compared to previous times when I bought packets of seeds at a very high cost.
I am Yeabu Lassayo, a gardener and Chairlady for the Together as One Women’s Group. All the women in this group are gardeners. The majority of us are either married, single parents, widows or divorced but one common thing is, we are all petty traders and gardeners.
We received seeds from Healey Foundation through Caritas Freetown. The ones they supplied were a little different from the ones we normally buy here. The variety is very good and grows well compared to the previous grains we planted. This support boosted our businesses so much because it saved us the cost of buying the seeds which in most cases are hard to get. I used my proceeds to take care of my children’s basic needs and the entire family.