Selling pigs helps women flourish in Cameroon

The gift of a piglet may not seem like much but for Mami Debora Bih it enabled her to buy her first dress in 20 years.

Bih, a widow, is one of 13 women in Cameroon to have received a piglet from Christian development charity Rope.

The women were shown how to rear the piglets and when they multiplied, were able to sell the offspring locally.

As part of the Passing on the Seed project, the women were encouraged to give one of their surplus piglets to another widow to bring about the same transformation in their lives.

Although the initial investment to provide the pigs was a modest £265, the rewards have been warmly received by the women.

Debora Bih's piglet provided her with 11 young, making her a decent profit.

She shares: "I decided to buy a nice dress and shoes for myself. Since my husband died 20 years ago, this is the first time I bought a brand new dress. Thank you Rope!"

She then passed on one of her piglets to Ma Debora Ngum, who was also able to sell the offspring and use the income to pay for her son's school fees as well as some medical bills.

Mirabelle Karawa, who runs the project in Cameroon, said: "We started with a few widows in our ministry but the numbers increased over the years. There were suddenly many more mouths to feed, many more people to clothe and many more orphans to educate. We were limited in our finances to keep our programmes going smoothly.

"We remembered the saying that 'it is better to teach somebody how to catch fish than to give them fish'.

"We realised that, in order for our programmes to be sustainable, we needed to empower the women to help themselves.

"Giving the ladies piglets to multiply was a great idea but then we thought again that if we gave a piglet as a seed so they multiply and in turn give a 'seed' to another widow then it would enable us to help many more widows."

Rope chief executive Graham Fairbairn said: "This is the type of project we love at Rope, where a minimal investment brings very considerable impact in the lives of women. The fact that they are also learning to share underscores the Christian compassion that is so much part of the change we want to help bring about."