21 Dec 2021
By: IOM Germany

Meet Achta from Lake Chad. A woman who has hope and brings hope. Fleeing her home from armed men, she leads a women’s initiative in a refugee camp in Chad. In safety, she sews Covid-19 masks and set up a fund to make women financially independent.

Chad - Achta nurtures hope for a better life. Despite experiencing incredible hardships. In 2018 armed men attacked her native village. Achta fled just in time before they reached her house. She could carry only a few of her personal belongings with her. She settled in the community of Kousseri, in Chad’s Lac Province. She and a dozen other displaced persons. Achta remembers very well. 

“We walked for a long time and when we arrived in Kousseri, we were all relieved” -Achta

Over 7,000 internally displaced persons reside in the Kousseri 1-site. Social and economic circumstances are difficult. Achta is a fighter. She soon joined other displaced women and set up a cooperative to work together. A peer support group helping each other. The  COVID-19 pandemic broke out and life got harder. For Achta and for thousands of displaced persons in the Lac province. Health measures and mobility restrictions were put in place to curb the virus. But, they significantly reduced people’s ability to send and receive finances. Money is one of the key sources of livelihoods for displaced persons on the Lac.

Achta, and other internally displaced persons, became extreme vulnerable. Dependence on humanitarian aid for survival increased. The International Organization for Migration (IOM), with the support of the Federal Republic of Germany, partnered with the association of women’s cooperatives of the Kousseri 1 displacement site. A facemask production campaign was launched.

“This cooperative is our livelihood, and we are happy to work on this project” -Achta

The campaigns help to empower women. It provides an alternative means of income. Achta leads the cooperative of 20 women members. They produced over 7,000 cotton facemasks. Fully funded. IOM distributes emergency kits to internally displaced persons include these masks. The partnership revived fresh hopes for a better future for Achta. The cooperative earned enough to establish a community trust fund. A fund for women whenever they need financial assistance. A fund for women when they want to invest in their future.

“This is a good initiative for us, and our goal is to earn enough to maybe purchase a plot of land, do some farming and have various income-generating activities so we can thrive.” -Achta

IOM receives funding from the German Federal Foreign Office (GFFO) for “Strengthening IOM's COVID-19 Life-Saving Response in Humanitarian Settings” in several countries around the world as part of IOM’s Strategic Response and Recovery Plan for COVID-19 (SRRP). We would like to tell the stories of some of the people who benefited from this support.

SDG 5 - Gender Equality
SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities