Stories of Change

Mama Jeni in her kiosk.

CWS efforts in Indonesia positively impacted more than 17,000 people in 16 communities last year.

Source: Annual Report 2017

Saving for an even brighter future

Jeni Liunokas, who goes by Mama Jeni with her friends and neighbors, is a mother of three and an active member of the Fetomone women’s savings group in Enonabuasa village in West Timor, Indonesia. Mama Jeni and her neighbors started the group through the CWS Timor Zero Hunger program. Specifically, it’s part of the Berdaya initiative, which is funded by the Disciples of Christ – Week of Compassion.

One aim of Timor Zero Hunger is for families to have more and more nutritious food, especially a variety of vegetables and protein-rich eggs and chicken meat. Another aim to help women find opportunities through Berdaya, which means empowerment in Indonesian, to improve their lives in other ways.

Since starting their group in Enonabuasa, members have developed three business units: 1)savings by and loans to group members, 2) farming and 3) weaving. With CWS support, they have also organized several workshops to help them increase and better manage their income.

Before joining the savings group, Mama Jeni only had modest income from occasionally selling her handwoven textiles and selling celery from her garden in a local market twice a month. Her husband raises pigs and cultivates mung beans and is a village health volunteer. The family is doing okay financially, and they are able to send their younger children to school. They were even able to save enough money for the oldest child to manage the $13/month tuition at a teacher training college in the nearby town, Soe.

Despite the family’s relative financial security, daily life is still difficult. And, like most moms, Mama Jeni wants a better life for her whole family. She wants to be more secure in case of an emergency – like longer or more severe drought, which Enonabuasa and all villages in this part of the world are increasingly experiencing.

So, like women the world over, Mama Jeni was ready and waiting to change her situation for the better. With her micro loan from Fetomone and some technical support from CWS, she opened a small kiosk next to her house, where she now sells homemade snacks. “I learned to make snacks from pumpkins, sweet potatoes and bananas,” explains Mama Jeni. “I’ve earned almost four-times as much money (gross) as the 50,000 Rupiah I borrowed from Fetomone and, after I bought a food processor so my snack-making is more efficient, I repaid my loan in full, including interest. My routine income is higher now, and I am saving money especially so my younger children can have more education, like their older sister, if they want.”