How it All Began...
In May of 2012, I was working in Niger and had the opportunity to meet the staff of GODIAMU, an NGO in Niamey, a partner of Plan International in Niger. Once we started to talk, I realized that the GODIAMU staff were mostly veterans of MMD, Mata Masu Dubara, CARE’s famous savings group program which was a predecesor of many of the savings groups of today. GODIAMU’s staff include women who were there in the very first days of MMD - I felt honored to be in their presence! I came back to visit them on the weekend with a video camera, and interviewed them for an hour. This is part of what I recorded - reminscenses from the very first days, when Moira Eknes was the project director, and the MMD members, along with the CARE staff, were making up the project as they went along.
The women talking in this video are Halimatou Saadou, the President of GODIAMU; Fatima Ibrahim, field supervisor; and Rahila Mamane and Hadjara Moussa, both field agents. Rahila was a field agent with CARE when Moira Eknes was there, and Hadjara was an MMD group member and later a Village Agent.
I sent the link to Moira Eknes to see this, and she wrote back:
This is great! Too bad Rahila got the year of start up wrong- she and the other two first village agents were recruited in 1991 (not 1994) which is when the first groups started. Regarding the box with three padlocks – this was an idea that came out of a discussion between me and the treasurer in Rafin Wada (the name of one of the villages Rahila talks about, and where she was installed at first), and the first box was in metal. Before that, we did not have uniform boxes, and as you heard they were using various forms of containers depending on the group. “The box” since we started with it always had three padlocks . Of the women you have interviewd there only Rahila was in it from the start during my time. It’s great to see her again, she has not changed :)
I was totally entranced listening to these ladies. If you speak French, you can get this directly, and I think you’ll be entranced too. If you don’t speak French, you’ll have to rely on my translations, which I wish were better.
I still have another half hour of tape, which includes very funny stories from when Rahlia went to Norway to visit Moira, and their assessment of the changes that have come to the approach since the early days.
NB Originally published June 30, 2012.