We at She Is Safe are enthusiastic about Transformation Groups. But, you might wonder what makes these groups unique from other women’s self-help groups.
We have seen that Transformation Groups offer infinitely more than self-help for downtrodden women. Laksmi could not write her own name when she first joined a local Transformation Group. She signed on as a member with a thumbprint. She could not afford to send her daughters to school. She worried that they might have to be sold just to survive. But within a month of meetings, Laksmi could write her own name, and began saving about .25 cents per week, alongside her friends in the group.
She quickly learned the math skills to watch her savings grow. Each week she brought her prayer concerns, heard about God’s love, and grew a sense of confidence from discovering that she was an avid learner. Laksmi learned to make soap, and use disinfectant that she and her friends made.
She took a small loan from the group to produce more of these “health products” to sell, and dramatically increased both her income and savings – and with those funds improved the health and future of her children. With the income she generated, Laksmi was able to pay school fees and buy books and uniforms for her daughters to go to school.
Laksmi is a respected leader in her group and community now. She speaks to other families about what God has done for her, and the importance of nutrition, education, thrift and industry. Laksmi and her friends in the group make sure that families in their village know that child marriage and trafficking are illegal activities. Laksmi’s group has created a circle of protection around all the girls in the village.
As Laksmi’s experience demonstrates, families and communities are deeply transformed through these groups. Our Transformation Group implementation has been designed and refined over the past 10 years by She Is Safe to bring holistic transformation to communities in order to prevent abuse and exploitation, while we also rescue and restore those girls and women who have been enslaved.
The most obvious aspect of Transformation Groups is economic empowerment. Week by week the women gather to learn basic skills: everything from literacy and math skills to hygiene and abuse prevention. Next, we teach these groups of 12 to 20 women ways to generate income. Depending on what is needed in the local community, women in Transformation Groups learn everything from sewing and embroidery to baking, animal husbandry and soap making. Throughout the months of learning, the women are building up a group savings account, from which they grant and repay loans to support new businesses of group members.
Transformation Groups are managed by the women in the group under the leadership of one of our local co-workers who has been trained by She Is Safe. Each woman has her opportunity to develop leadership skills – as officers of the group rotate. This helps the women become leaders in their community while keeping the work we do intentionally local.
The Soul of a Transformation Group
Though economic empowerment is important, the soul of a Transformation Group is the new life Christ offers as members come to know him through the Bible, songs, prayer and discussion. Additionally, members gain lifelong support from their leaders and each other. Through worship times, study and prayer, trust and love are built between the women in the group necessary for hearts and communities to change.
The economic empowerment is inextricably linked to the spiritual and emotional support, which is why Transformation Groups have been successful even in places where saving can seem impossible and women face opposition to their development.
You can see why we are so passionate about this work. By God’s grace, we are able to offer the tools to realize deep, sustainable transformation for women and girls in high risk communities. We are seeing a better future for girls on the horizon, village by village, in the hardest places of India, Indonesia, South Sudan and beyond.
Thank you for joining us to bring Transformation Groups to more villages and communities across the least-reached world.