Ending stress for Ophorigbala Community women and children

Ophorigbala is a small village in Ughelli South local government area in Delta State. To gain entrance into this village and 2 of its neighbouring villages requires crossing a large river with a pont save a for a few people that are into lumbering as an occupation who own boats, the pont is the major source of moving in and out of the community which has gradually become a source of income for the youths who collect twenty naira per person. After crossing the river, it still requires walking about 2 to 3 hours before getting to Ophorigbala community. On the other, a few residents of a neighboUring community own motorcycles which they sometimes use commercially to convey people going to farther community like Ophorigbala.
Mary Okodjevo, a widow and mother of 10 (6boys and 4girls) says ‘‘the terrain and location of our community didn’t make it easy for us as women farmers to thrive for a very long time. Majority of women in Ophorigbala are farmers cultivating cassava majorly and we also have men farmers too, but most are also fishermen by the side. As women farmers, the processing of our cassavas was done manually and it was very expensive and stressful going through that process which includes: cutting of cassava, carrying the huge sack of cassava on long walks to cross the river to go to the nearest town for the cassava processing, then bring it back to the community again for drying and packaging and then back to town for sales. However, that was our reality, we went through that every week. I am over 60 years old, yet that was the process I went through.
I was always very tired because of this and It also made me look older than my age. Most times, I am too tired to return to town for sales because if I don’t sell all my processes cassava, then I will have to carry the unsold one on my head back to the village again. I dreaded that period and I always felt sad making my son go through that stress with me. I have my 16-year-old son living with me and my 3 grandchildren while others have relocated out of the community.’’
In 2017, ActionAid provided the Ophorigbala women farmers with a cassava processing machine, presser and cassava dryer to ease the stress women and children go through in walking over 20km just to process their cassava.
Mary concluded that ‘‘The cassava processing machine ActionAid provided for us is the best thing that has happened to Ophorigbala community. Before, I was always looking stressed, tired and not smiling. Things have changed now, our cassava processing is now through the machine. The manual process that can take up to 10 hours if I decide not to go to town can now be done with the machine in 30 minutes. For example, If I wanted to grind the cassava manually, I would grind a sack in one day but now, with the machine, I get to grind 8 sacks in 1 day. My son and I no longer go through the manual labour of cassava processing. I smile more now, I spend more time with my grandchildren and I rest more now. Thank you, ActionAid.
The women group has employed a male youth within the community who was trained and now operate the machine, a sack of cassava for processing cost one hundred and fifty naira and at the end of the month, the money realised from the processing is divided into 3 portions; one portion goes to the machine operator, another portion goes to the women’s group purse for those that wish to take out loans and the 3rd portion is used for the repair of the machine.’’
One of the women who recently took out a loan from the women’s purse, 40-year-old Dora Affrun says ‘’I took out a loan of five thousand naira to pay for my children’s school fees because my husband was sick for a while and we couldn’t go to the market to sell and I was short of the money to pay their fees. The women’s savings was my emergency go to to get the loan and I have since paid back. The best thing about the women’s saving scheme is that, it is targeted at supporting the women for our children’s needs hence request that has to do with the children are prioritized. Thank you ActionAid, the provision of the cassava grinding machine has changed the lives of Ophorigbala women.’’
Photo 1 – Mary is now a happy woman
Photo 2 – Mary and Ophorigbala women say Thank you!
Photo 3 – Mary and her 16-year-old son and 3 grandchildren in front of her house
Photo 4 – Ophorigbala women now have a functional cassava processing machine thanks to your child sponsorship
Photo 5 – Ophorigbala women now have a functional cassava pressing machine thanks to your child sponsorship
Photo 6 – Dora and her husband say thank you!
Photo 7 – Dora (1st left in cream top), Mary (Middle) and Beatrice (right) say thank you!
Photo 8 – Dora (1st left) and Beatrice can now process their cassava in minutes no more hours!
Photo 9 – Mary now has more time to spend with her son


Reviving Emovwe Primary School

For over 7 years, children learning in Emovwe primary school in Esaba were studying under leaking roofs. The roof were very bad such that it was totally closed during the raining season and children had to stay at home while some others are registered in another school. Esaba community, just like Ophorigbala community is only accessible by crossing the river using the pont, hence children when Emovwe primary is closed must trek about 1 hour to the other nearest community school.

14 year-old Daniel Soso, a primary 6 pupil who wishes to be a lawyer in future says ‘‘for a really long time, the roofs were bad even before I joined the school but we stayed like that. However, once it is threatening to rain, the teachers dismiss all the children to go home. During the rainy season, it was very bad especially when it rained everyday. By 2016, the roof were already very bad and not manageable any longer. A lot of parents withdrew their children from the school to other schools but I stayed at home to help my mother in her food and provisions store. The other closest school to my community Esaba is very far and bushy, my parents were not comfortable to allow me walk so far to and from school every day under the sun and in the rain so I was just at home. Although, the the dry season, some of us still went to school but some parents were not comfortable with going to school in dry season and going to another in rainy season so a lot of children left Emovwe primary school and some of my friends too. The school became scanty and boring. It was not fun going to school anymore. We were very few in school and in my class. However, things changed last year when ActionAid came to the community and realized the roofs were totally off and they replaced the roofs. Immediately, the roofs were replaced, children that had left Emovwe primary school came back. The school became lively again. My friends and class mates were back at home. The teachers were also very happy.
We no longer learn under the sun neither do we go back home when it’s threatening to rain. I thought I would never finish my primary school because of the closed school but I am happy, I am back on the path to being a lawyer. Thank you ActionAid.!
Thanks to your child sponsorship, more than 55% of the children that left the school are now back in school. 134 children of Emovwe primary school can now achieve their full potentials and future ambitions.
Photo 10 – Daniel Soso in front of the school with the new roof during the holidays
Photo 11 – Daniel Soso and some of the children of Emovwe primary school in front of the school with new roof during the holiday.
Photo 12 – Before and after photo of the school roof