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Redefining possibilities: Empowering the Caregivers

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For many years, Mrs. Elizabeth Abiodun could only see life from the prism of her pain and agony. She watched her children go hungry and unable to go to school like other children around them. Life had lost its meaning to her as she struggled constantly to put food on the table. So was her story until the USAID funded SIDHAS project through support to one of its implementing agencies (Humanity Family Foundation for Peace and Development) gave her children hope for a brighter future.
In 2012, two of Elizabeth’s five children were identified and enrolled to benefit from the SIDHAS project’s support for vulnerable children to access a package of care in health, education, nutrition, and other psychosocial services. This package was also extended to her adolescent nephew living with HIV, who was also orphaned by AIDS. In April 2013, Elizabeth was selected to participate in a three day vocational and entrepreneurial skills training supported by the SIDHAS project for 100 caregivers at Ajeromi/Ifelodun local government area. She received training on liquid soap making in order to develop her skills for economic independence.
A few weeks after the training, armed with a new skill and enthusiasm, Elizabeth received a loan of five thousand naira (N5000) from her sister to start a liquid soap-making business. With the loan and some of her own savings, she started her own soap making business and grew the business to the point where she can hardly keep up with demand from customers. “I am happy that they (USAID funded SIDHAS project) has taken me out of poverty” says an excited Elizabeth.  From the profit she has made so far in the business she has been able to repay her initial loan of N5000 and now able to meet her family’s financial needs.
The response to the plight of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) in Nigeria has largely been driven by communities. The SIDHAS project working through and with civil society organizations has created an enabling environment for sustained community intervention for the family and caregivers like Mrs. Elizabeth Abiodun. Indeed the USAID funded SIDHAS project has redefined possibilities for Nigeria’s most vulnerable populations through empowering their care givers to be self-driven entrepreneurs and future employers of labour.

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