The small village of Kelayu is located in the highlands of the Indonesian island of Lombok. The houses huddle on the steep slopes and rice terraces at Sambalun Mountain, the small neighbour of Rinjani volcano. The inhabitants are rice and cattle farmers. If you want to go to Kelayu, you have to leave the asphalted road a few kilometres before and travel the steep slopes over a dirt and pebble road. In the rainy season, this can turn into a dangerous undertaking, because then the road can suddenly turn into a torrent.
When we visit the small village, it is planting season. All family members help together to free the rice paddies from weeds, so that the seedlings can be planted in the watered paddies. The farmers wave as we drive past them. Foreign visitors rarely come by here.
“Not everyone is happy when we come to do projects in a village,” says Juaini, project manager of our partner organisation Gema Alam. “We’re known for encouraging women to take economic action. Not everyone likes that. In villages like Kelayu, women still don’t have the same rights as men do. Most of the time, though, acceptance changes when people see that families are better off when women are also allowed to run small businesses.”
One example of this is Muliana. We meet the 20-year-old mother in her little kiosk, which she opened several months ago. Supermarkets don’t exist in the area and therefore business goes well. With a microcredit from us, she was able to buy additional goods that are not otherwise available to buy in the village. This helps not only the small family, but the whole village community. Confidently, the young entrepreneur, who is supported by her husband in her endeavor, explains her plans for the future. “I would like to open the first small supermarket in this village. If we have enough money, my husband will build the store bigger. ”
After we say goodbye to Muliana, Juaini explains: “Through the microcredit, Muliana has gained in prestige. The people of the village community have noticed that we, as the organization, regard Muliana as an equal business partner. She is now respected as a businesswoman by the village community. As a result, she has become much more confident. ”
We thank our donors who allow women like Muliana to make their dreams come true.