Turning Stone into Strength

May 21, 2015

By Molly Erickson, Creative Communications Director, Convoy of Hope

On a rainy day in Tanzania, a woman sits on a massive pile of stone as she grips a small hammer. Her eyes stay on the stone and her strong, hardened hands steady before each swing. She begins with a large piece and splits it in two. She continues to hammer each piece until it breaks into several smaller pieces. Behind her, more women are spread across the entire village, almost in a pathway formation. Each sits on her own pile of stone as they meticulously hammer the large rocks into gravel.

Courtesy: Convoy of Hope

Many women in the Sakina village spend hours each day breaking stone to sell for construction (Courtesy: Convoy of Hope)

Elizabeth and Sinyati are among half a dozen women in the Sakina village who work multiple jobs to provide for their families and send their children to school. According to Daudi Msseemmaa, Africa field operations director for Convoy of Hope, the tiny, sharp, gray stone that is hammered can be sold for construction and provide additional income for the women and their families.

The scale of work they complete with nothing but their hands and splintered hammers is remarkable. The stone work is extremely physically demanding and often results in injuries due to their lack of helmets, gloves and eyewear.

“We often pound our fingers or suffer from eye injuries,” Elizabeth says.

As the women work, shards of stone splinter off and fly in every direction. Years of hard work have made their eyes heavy and their bodies tired, but in their voices there is something unavoidable yet inspirational — determination.

“It’s very hard work and the profit is low,” Sinyati says as she looks across the piles of stone in front of her. “But it’s better than nothing.” Sinyati is the sole provider for her family.

These hard-working women are in their final days of this difficult labor because they have recently enrolled in Convoy of Hope’s Women’s Empowerment Initiative. The initiative gives promise to pull these women out of poverty they have known their entire lives. They recently started a community garden where they can grow and harvest crops for additional income.

“When I look at the garden, I see a light in the near future where we can start our own business,” Sinyati says.

The group meets twice a week to discuss best practices for the money they have earned and saved. Elizabeth hopes the completion of the program will bring a newfound confidence and will inspire her daughter to live a better life as well.

Courtesy: Convoy of Hope

A Women’s Empowerment participant tends to the community garden the group has started (Courtesy: Convoy of Hope)

“I wont feel bad anymore,” she says. “I will be able to provide for my family.”

Through the Women’s Empowerment Initiative, women like Elizabeth and Sinyati have the resources they need. This allows them to feed their own

children and to help others.

“The Sakina women also make nutritious flour, which is used at feeding sites in the area,” says Msseemmaa. “This provides a common thread that connects the women in our program to the children we feed.”

For more information on the work Convoy of Hope is doing around the world, please visit convoyofhope.org.