Natalana from South Sudan

It wasn’t too many years ago, that I became the fifth wife of my husband. You see, in South Sudan, many Dinka men have multiple wives.


Shortly after getting married, I became pregnant, and before I knew it, I was the mother of five little boys. But being the last of my husband’s wives made me somewhat of an outcast. There was no money to pay for my sons’ school fees. We barely had enough to eat, and I was looked down upon in my home village of Lietnhom.

So, in 2007, I decided I would try to sell a few household items in a little shop to help make ends meet. But I am illiterate, had no training, no business experience, and had difficultly making a profit from my little business.

So, when I heard later that year that business skills training was being offered, I enrolled in the adult education class immediately! Before I knew it, I had been given my first loan for $75 from the Amat Wuot Community Bank in Lietnhom. You can’t imagine my excitement! So I used that loan to buy a small freezer so that I could sell cold soft drinks, which as you might imagine are very popular in South Sudan. I have since taken out and repaid three additional loans and now have two businesses – a restaurant and a household goods shop.

But it was two years ago, when the most amazing thing happened – I was named chairlady of the village bank. A bank with 565 members. The bank where I took out my first-ever loan. And, the first bank in our entire county.

As chairlady, I addressed the entire community at the bank opening. I told everyone how important it is to educate girls and through my speaking, everyone could see what a woman can do!

I just can’t stop talking about this program. It is one of the most important programs I have seen in my life. And, it is changing Lietnhom!

With the profits from my businesses, I have been able to send all five of my sons to school, and I challenge the other women in the village to attend the adult education classes and to start businesses so that they too can provide for their families.

My husband has now put me in charge of all his wives, and all of the men in the village can say nothing against me, because I am sending my boys to school.

Education is the key to everything. I want to make sure my children are in good health and go to school. I don’t want them to be like me when I couldn’t read or write.

When I think about it, I do not know what would have happened to my family and my children if this program had not come to our town. Before it came, I was not able to buy enough food, school books or uniforms for my children. Now, I am able to support my children with all they need.