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Convoy of Hope paves road to independence for African women

TANZANIA, Africa It was a chance to see lives forever changed through the work of Springfield-based Convoy of Hope.

It’s typically thought of as only disaster relief, but KY3’s Sara Forhetz recently saw Convoy’s year-round work, up close and personal with women in Tanzania, Africa, who were otherwise outcast.

Tanzania, Africa-- for many, women are on the bottom of the pecking order, behind cows, men and children.

Their hard work pays only a few cents a day. Their husbands, usually out of the picture.

“If you give a man income, then he'll spend 25 percent of his income on the family. And if you give a woman income, then they'll spend 90 percent of the income on a family. “

The very reason hope has come in a Convoy to the least of these.

Nothing here is wasted.

Even a rock pile has value.

Women will spend hours, days, on end, breaking them into smaller pieces to sell-- just trying to feed their children.

"Before, usually we would have one meal a day, my children, and that was difficult, but now we get two meals a day."

Hope came to Elizabeth two years ago. She learned a new business; boiling cow's blood, then laying it out on a tarp to dry, then selling it as animal feed.

"This helped us to get vegetables which we can give to our children, but also to sell."

She's now making enough money to feed her kids daily, and even save some money.

Now that's she has been filled, Elizabeth is pouring into others.

“Our group is now.. 9 and 7... they are 16.”

Sixteen women strong, by way of what's called seed capital.

They're given enough money to start their own businesses, with 200 dollars, that they don't have to pay back.

“You can see hope on their face and you can see that they have confidence. Money, from those who share the heart and hands of Convoy of Hope.

“They are very motivated, because they live in dire conditions so this really is a life-line for them and a ticket to a new beginning.

Kimarie Page works for Convoy, and on this trip, showed donors how their American dollars give life.

“And now, they have a thriving business, they're hiring other women, they're expanding their business, they're diversifying their biz, I mean they are true entrepreneurs.”

Convoy is even reaching out to girls before they're moms, and empowering them to go to school and set goals. Breaking cultural norms, and the cycle of poverty.

“I think generationally, you're going to see a big change.

“Some areas where we are working, getting married when you're a child is really common, even 8 years old, 9 years old is common.”

Not with this group-- not anymore. Lives transformed, by a few dollars a month, when Hope comes in a convoy.

“I truly believe we can eradicate poverty.”

Convoy tells them, we're not going to be here forever, so figure this business thing out.

And they do.

About $1,000 covers seed capital, training, intensive weekly monitoring, advising, and overhead. It is not a monthly thing, because each participant is expected to be profitable and on their own without continuing financial support after the initial investment.