It has been 7 weeks since Widline Hordesty was among the first group of women to graduate from the CLM program. “I am a different woman today, and sometimes, I try hard not to forget the way I was before CLM came into my life, because, that is one reason that I keep working hard, to never go back there.”
Widline wants everyone to hear her story of moving out of extreme poverty, “many people including the father of my 3 year old son told me not to get involved with the CLM program, they told me that it will bring me further into poverty, especially when the day will come for me to start paying back loans.” Fortunately, she said, she did not listen and went ahead and followed her instincts. “I imagined that there is no way that I could become worse than the way I was then, I am 26 years old and never thought about any future for myself or my son, I lived from day to day, I went into the program with a determination to succeed.”
And succeed she did. The 5 goats and 4 chickens she was given at the beginning of the program have multiplied into 1 cow, 10 goats, 1 horse 3 vegetable gardens, 1 pig which she recently sold at a good profit, and a striving small commodities business. She explains that her CLM case manager “walked” with her during the 18 month program, never letting her give up, and constantly reminding her of her strength and worth, something no one has ever done before. Sometimes they would even get into strong disagreements and arguments on why giving up is just not on the agenda.
Today she says “You can’t imagine the kind of respect I get from my neighbors and friends now.” The same people who had discouraged her from joining the CLM program, have come to be her greatest admirers. She said with pride that she had paid her first monthly loan payment on time, and already have the money ready to pay the next installment. “I have a bank book, I have money in the bank, I have a business, my son will begin school next year, and I can feed him and keep him healthy. CLM was sent to me by God…Fonkoze was sent to us by God, that is what we tell each other , how else can you explain the change in all of us who graduated from the program.” Widline told me that when they get together, the graduates talk about their newfound determination, their newfound pride and most of all, their newfound love for living. “ It’s so much easier to wake up in the morning now, I am excited, I have a business to run, I go to the marketplace, meet other business women and we discuss and share ideas and expectations for the future.”
When I asked her to tell me what she felt was the biggest impact the CLM program had on her, Widline was very quick with her answer.
“The biggest blessing that CLM has given me is a future for me and my son”.