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Recently, it seems like a women’s movement is taking over the world to empower women, safeguard their rights, augment their voices, and give them more chances to succeed. But while some women march for their rights or demand equal pay, others exists beyond the reach of this movement. Despite the changing times, women living in rural villages in Egypt belong to a generation and a culture that continues to value them as property, something to be owned, protected, and locked away by their male keeper. And when a woman is widowed, she loses her protection, her livelihood, even her right to provide for her family as she faces increased scrutiny and control from her community.

Yet despite all of these challenges, we have seen extraordinary women overcome insurmountable obstacles to start their own business, support their families, and reclaim their personhood. They become their own movement, armed with nothing but a sewing machine or bags of feed, and a little help from the B’edaya initiative. B’edaya projects range from raising and settling cattle, to running an ironing service or a photography studio. Your generous support is invaluable to helping us provide these microloans to these widowed mothers.

One of these extraordinary women I’d like to tell you about, is Maria. Maria’s husband died in a car accident 15 years ago, leaving her a widowed homemaker, with two children to raise. Her son graduated from technical high school and daughter is currently in her first year of general high school. Maria started a mini market project a year prior to receiving her B’edaya loan. She applied to receive a microfinance loan through us the following year, so she could purchase a deep freezer to expand her mini market and sell food such as fish and vegetables, to meet her clients growing grocery needs.

Because of your generous support, we were able to provide Maria with a microloan, so she could expand her mini market. But even with the financial support, it wasn’t always easy. At the start of her project, Maria suffered from acute depression, which lasted for several months, leaving her with many sleepless nights. During this time, her son and daughter helped operate her mini market. With the support and encouragement of her children’s Not Alone Volunteer Rep and Field Coordinator, Maria received the help she needed to move forward. Ever since, she has been doing her best to ensure her project succeeds. One thing that really helped her recover from depression and press on, was giving back to her local community. Maria, someone with no professional teaching background, started giving literacy classes to illiterate adults in her village. Maria was inspired to start this effort after seeing how much the Volunteer Rep supported her daughter throughout her education, encouraged her to get good grades to go beyond technical school, postpone her marriage, and get into general high school. Maria has taken on this voluntary initiative to teach 12 illiterate adults reading and writing, on top of running her mini market business, demonstrating not only her strong spirit of service, but her passionate desire to give back to others. And this is the story of just one woman your support has helped!

We are so proud of the self-made entrepreneurs of the B’edaya initiative who have become their own movement of empowerment, strength, and independence. Thanks to your unwavering support, Egypt’s women will thrive and secure a brighter future for their children through microfinance.