More than a drop in the sea

By Barbara Nana – Communications Coordinator for World Vision Chad

I have just arrived at the Pendé Area Development Program, located nearly eight hours from the capital N’Djamena in Chad. Madeleine, a woman in her forties, greets me with a cry in the local language. I ask her why she is so happy. She tells me that every time she sees the colours of World Vision she is happy.

She is one of the women World Vision Chad works with as part of women's groups for the wellbeing of children.

She begins by asking me the question, "You know the sentence that says, ‘What is a drop of water in the sea?’ You who have studied a lot, for you what does it mean?"

Without really understanding where she wants to go, I simply reply: "That means that a drop of water makes no difference in the sea, the sea can be seen here as abundance."

She agrees and begins to talk to me about her life. Madeleine has had eight children, four of whom died.

"My children died as a result of diseases that could have been avoided if my husband and I were more informed,” she tells me. At the time, she and her husband were also struggling financially. Her husband had lost his job, so they opened a small stall outside their house to sell oil and peanut paste.

Madeleine first met World Vision in 2010 during an awareness-raising campaign on the importance of education and sending children to school. Interested in what World Vision was trying to do, Madeleine was trained as a facilitator, helping pass on training to her community and mobilising them to carry out work in partnership with World Vision.

“I can say that my life begins after this training. Really I have no words. World Vision opened my eyes."

I am a bit critical about this way of presenting the work of World Vision. We work together with the communities but we do not present ourselves as a panacea or a miracle solution. So I ask Madeleine for more information.

“How? Can you explain, because I think that well before World Vision you transformed local products. You did not need World Vision to do that, did you?”

She smiled as if to tell me that I did not understand her and her answer. "Yes I agree, we transform local products in a traditional way, but with the new techniques that World Vision has taught us, the results are better. Our parents did not really care about hygiene and health conditions, for example."

Madeleine (left) and other members of the women's group tend to the vegetable garden that they use to earn an income.

Madeleine goes on to tell me about a group of women she has been involved with since 2012, who started out working together to make local foods to sell. They saved up the profits to purchase gardening equipment, so they could plant fresh vegetable gardens. From there they invested in improving production, purchasing an electric water pump. As well as making it easier to water their gardens, the group can rent out the pump to local farmers for extra income.

The group started as just 10 women, but as others saw the benefits of being involved their numbers have grown. Beyond their group efforts, the women are also finding more opportunities to start small enterprises.

“With the training of techniques like soap-making, I make soap that I sell at home and at the market. I took a loan from the group, because once in the market I bought other products that I came to re-sell here in the neighbourhood," says Madeleine.

When I ask Madeleine what motivates her, she tells me that being involved with these groups and World Vision has given her courage, helped her look after her children and send them to school. But the last part of her answer is profound.

“What marks me the most is that after two years of work I was able, with my small savings, to buy land. You realise that my small savings were falling like water drops, but I was patient. I had an objective and today they have been transformed into this whole stretch of land. You see my daughter, the drops of water make the sea. This terrain will benefit my children, the children of my children.”

Share this story