During the Community Heroes contest, we will be featuring stories of each of the heroes. Each one has overcome some overwhelming odds to make a difference for his or her community, and each one deserves a prize to help the community. Today we’re featuring Augustina Pokua from Ghana, who has been instrumental in helping to create and facilitate a microfinance program in her local community. Vote for Augustina by going to www.map.org/community-heroes!
Fifteen years ago, Augustina Pokua’s husband died, leaving her a young widow with five children. She struggled for years to cope with the loss while trying to care for her children, and while she has grown accustomed to her situation, she says that “the struggle continues even now.” Despite the challenges in her personal life, when health workers came to her village asking for volunteers willing to serve their community, Augustina readily joined. She believes that development comes from individuals investing self-effort and sacrifice, and she wants to see a change in her village, called Tumiamayenko. Even though much of her time is required to care for her children and tend to the crops she raises as a farmer, she freely gives herself to the community because she is passionate about bringing forth a better quality of life for all around her.
Augustina is especially passionate about seeing improved health in children and financial security in Tumiamayenko. As a health promoter, she administers vaccines and is the leader of the women’s savings and loans association. Augustina travels long distances to reach all the families in the area as families are scattered across large farms. She walks many miles to ensure that children are immunized and regularly monitored for weight and healthy development. She also teaches important health messages wherever she goes and helps families understand the proper use and care of malaria nets.
When MAP Ghana started the Village Savings and Loans Association there, the women readily nominated Augustina as their leader. Through her inspiring efforts, the women groups in the village have more funds than the men; mobilizing nearly $3,000 in seven months representing 71% of all contributions from the village. These savings have a huge impact for women in the community. Aside from the solidarity and shared responsibility the savings create, the micro-loans help community members to purchase necessities or business investments that were not available to them before. If Augustina wins, she wishes that more land, tools and plants could be procured to introduce a wider variety of fresh vegetables into
villagers’ diets and also to sell in the marketplace which would provide families with additional income.