In partnership with a Deaf and Mute School, a Blind School, Women’s Shelters, and Women Beggars, we have established a women’s only Bazaar, and encouraged our beneficiaries to sell items that they either make themselves, or buy for cheap at local markets.
Prior to this, women were often only able to sell on the streets, where it was not safe and where it was impossible to make sufficient money. Now the women and girls are able to make a good income from the bazaar, which enables them to feel a sense of economic independence and pride.
As the income potential at the bazaar is such an improvement from simply selling on the streets, it also allows the younger girls to split their time between income generation activities and schooling, and has allowed all of the women to live much more comfortable existences.
Before, even some of the younger girls were working 12 to 13 hour days, but through the support of the Bazaar, they are able to work much less, whilst making more money.
The Story of little Madina
One of our youngest beneficiaries, Madina, now attends a private school (the first school she has ever attended!!), and can also afford to pay for the education of her eight siblings. In a recent interview we had with her, she expressed how much the Gulzad Foundation had transformed her life.
When did you first come in contact with the Gulzad Foundation?
I met Aunt Storai and Aunt Sweeda in Sharenaw one day. They wanted to make a deal with me, and told me that if I stopped begging on the streets, they would help me to establish my own business.
At first I didn’t understand this, because I had always thought that a business was something big, and with a huge office. All the expensive cars that drive by, with the men wearing nice suits, were businessmen for me. I didn’t understand at the beginning how I could be like that, but still I agreed because I wanted to give it a chance.
This program taught me what business really was, and how it was possible for me to run my own. They gave me some products to sell at the beginning, but later on, I bought my own out of my profits, and was running the business all by myself. It is so easy, either you manufacture your products or buy them cheap and sell them expensive, what stays in between is profit.
How did the Foundation change your life?
I started going to a private school. I had never even gone to any school before. Now I am so happy to have friends, and be the same as other kids. Life is so different now.
Did it have any effect on your family life?
Yes, before when I used to beg on the streets, I made less money and my family was always under stress. I felt pressure to provide more for them. Now there is so much joy and happiness in the house. My siblings too can now afford to go to school, and this makes me proud. I don’t want them to beg, I want them too to have their own businesses one day.
Do you think you, as a girl, should have the same rights as the boys?
Yes, I work just as hard as them and I have exactly the same capabilities, so why shouldn’t I be treated the same? I believe I deserve the same amount of respect as the boys. Gender doesn’t tell you how the character of a person is, only what sex they are.
What do you want to become later in life and why?
I want to become a pediatrician, because I want to help others, and as I have eight siblings, I know how difficult it can be to be able to visit a doctor, especially for a poor family. I would treat them for free, so that all children could at least have their health if nothing else.
When we first found Madina, like thousands of over young children, she had to roam the streets for 12 to 13 hours a day, begging for money. Her elderly father was unable to even support himself, let alone Madina and her eight siblings. At that time their appeared to be little hope for the whole family.
Through the support of the ‘Gulzad Foundation’ and the ‘Women’s Bazaar Program’, however, little Madina and her family have a brighter future, and with all of the children now in school, they can truly look forward to a sustainable future.
Madina is a truly special young girl, who is beautiful both inside and out. With her personality, education, and business experience, she is now confident, as are we, that her future is an extremely bright one.
Other Success Stories
There have been a number of other success stories coming as a result of the Bazaar. One of the earliest beneficiaries, Azezo, states;
“I am proud not to have to borrow money from anyone anymore and to be fully self-sufficient.”
She has been a member for a long time, and also inspired many other women to join the program. She says the ‘Women’s Bazaars’ as a way for women to not only become economically empowered, but also to feel pride in themselves and their community once again. Later in the interview she goes on to describe how this is even having an impact on the community itself.
“At the beginning they used to hide from their families when they came to the camps, but now they have become so confident and motivated, and are proud to mention that they work in the camps and earn their own money.”
With many more women like Madina and Azezo already benefiting from the ‘Women’s Bazaar’, we are seeing a huge amount of progress. It is our hope that we can develop this even further, and not only support an increasing number of women, but also takes the project on to the next level.
The Future of The Women’s Bazaars
It is our vision that in the future we can help the beneficiaries of the Women’s Bazaar Project to set up permanent stores in villages, towns, and cities, and not just accommodate temporary Bazaars. This will secure the benefit of the project long into the future, and give our women complete control over their businesses.
We also hope to use the template of the Women’s Bazaar to help create many other woman specific economic empowerment programs, and are looking to use the expertise and facilities of the Gulzad Group to facilitate this drive.
Securing the Women’s Bazaar Program
For the time being our focus is fixed firmly onto developing the Women’s Bazaar Project, with an ambition to make it fully sustainable in the near future. We have already seen such a wealth of progress in the lives and livelihoods of our beneficiaries, and this has kept us motivated to progress the program on to the next level.