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Within minutes, I met a woman who was holding a tiny newborn baby…

Over the last 10 years, our team in Australia have been fortunate enough to meet many of the women in the Cents for Seeds program. It’s an incredibly special thing to meet and hear from the women who we work to support from an entire country away. Naturally, some stories stay with us, and we get to watch their stories continue to grow and change over the coming years. One of our favourite stories to share, is one that is still being written, through the friendship between Sunta from Barr village and CEO Caitlin Barrett.

You may recognise Sunta from some of our favourite photos!

This International Women’s Day, we’re thinking about Sunta. About how her story, and her connection to Caitlin, feel like the heart of Love Mercy. Women supporting women to empower themselves and celebrate in each other’s achievements.

International Women’s Day is naturally one of my favourite celebrations on the calendar. To its detractors, it’s an unfair waste of time that places too much emphasis on women and leaves men in the dark. The number of times I’ve seen angry Facebook posts demanding an International Men’s Day has left my eyes sore from intense rolling. For most, it’s a good excuse to have a Friday lunch in the office and celebrate being female. Girl power etc. For me, its an opportunity to stop and reflect on the achievements of women, and the social and economic barriers that are still yet to be overcome. – Caitlin Barrett

In 2010, Caitlin was visiting Uganda for the first time upon starting Love Mercy. Within minutes of being in Barr village, the first village to join Cents for Seeds, she met Sunta. In her arms was a tiny newborn baby, her son Emmanuel, who was incredibly sick and Sunta was unable to afford to take him to hospital.

Thankfully, being a part of Cents for Seeds gave her the opportunity to earn and income which meant she could take care of baby Emmanuel. Her initial 30kg seed loan came about because someone in Australia gifted it to her.

Sunta became my inspiration when I returned to Australia and began to build Love Mercy. She was hard-working, always had a smile on her face, and despite the immense loss that she experienced having given birth nine times and losing six babies, including the tiny boy Emmanuel that I met that day, she never gave up. That was ten years ago and every year since then, despite drought, flood and even a plague of locusts, Sunta has managed to earn an income to provide for her remaining children and contribute to her community. All through the loan of 30kg of seeds.  – CEO Caitlin Barrett

Because of that initial seed loan, Sunta went on to take part in Cents for Seeds for 10 years. In 2020, she joined her village, Barr, as they became the first village to graduate from Cents for Seeds.

It was through the experience of meeting Sunta, as well as other women in Cents for Seeds, and hearing their stories that Caitlin and Eloise went on to ensure the project was for empowering women.

We found that in Uganda poverty was focusing particularly on women and children, and so we decided to do the same. Women are the caretakers for their families, with an average of seven children, they have a lot of hungry mouths to feed and often have sick people to care for, and elderly relatives to tend to. If you give them a hand up the whole family benefits. If the whole family benefits, suddenly the entire community is more resilient.

Keen to read more about women in Cents for Seeds?

Read Rose’s story here…

A Rose, a tailor and a bull.

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