APROFEHTO Association for the Promotion of Disabled Women in Togo, a CBM partner supports women with disabilities and mothers of children with disabilities.
Edwige has not been able to walk since she was 10 years old. Today she is 47 years old, and the cause of her disability is still a mystery. Edwige lives in Lomé city in the west African country of Togo.
Edwige's parents did their best to get her the medical care she needed. Unfortunately, her father was forced into early retirement due to an accident at work. The family lost their main source of income and so Edwige dropped out of school.
"My life was miserable," says Edwige, "I was discriminated against and ridiculed by my neighbours and the people around me."
For a moment, Edwige thought her dream of becoming a professional tailor and stylist was over.
She found comfort in a new life as a wife and mother. However, this comfort was abruptly interrupted when her husband first barred her from work. Then he left her and their son Jean Claude. Today she is a single parent.
Despair Turns into Hope for a Better Future
"No one predicted a better future for me. I started thinking about what I could do to be independent and not depend on my acquaintances. I wanted to provide adequately for my child so that he could get a better education," Edwige recalls.
She found help at the APROFEHTO Association for the Promotion of Disabled Women in Togo, a CBM partner. The association supports women with disabilities and mothers of children with disabilities.
APROFEHTO took Edwige in and trained her in leadership, disability rights and entrepreneurship.
"For the first time I learnt that I have the right to education and employment like any other person. I became confident to defend my rights."
With the support of the CBM-funded project, she was able to realise her dream of becoming a tailor. She also received two sewing machines, an ironing box, and tables.
Edwige started her dressmaker business and expanded it. Today she is also making masks, detergents, and snacks, which are in high demand. The money she earned from the sales gave her financial independence.
"I also got a walker and now I can go about my business without any problems," Edwige says happily.
With the income from her business, she has supported her son Jean Claude, who is now 18 years old, to attend the best school.
"This makes me very happy and proud. Today, people ask me how I achieved this level despite my disability. I use this opportunity to sensitise other women with disabilities and mothers of children with disabilities."
In the future, Edwige wants to make her shop a reference centre for training people with and without disabilities. She is saving with a savings and credit group for persons with disabilities, set up with financial support from the CBM-funded project.
"I am amazed at the respect I have gained in my family. When I say something, my opinion is heard.