The tragedy of war often reverberates long after the guns go silent. From the painful memories of violence and displacement to the ongoing suffering caused by unexploded remnants, war has left its scar on the people of Azerbaijan.
This is especially true for the areas bordering the frozen conflict, where frontline villagers have fallen victim to unexploded mines.
Often their injuries make it difficult to adjust, both socially and economically, to a new life. In Azerbaijan, losing a limb all too often means losing a livelihood as well.
We have partnered with Azerbaijan’s National Agency for Mine action (ANAMA) to tackle the myriad challenges of hundreds of landmine survivors face every day.
Under a renewed three-year commitment, we have developed a micro-credit funding scheme that provides landmine survivors with the ability to receive small loans at no interest.
For some recipients, the ability to start-up their own business has meant the difference between earning a livelihood and falling into poverty.
For others, the ability to expand an existing business has meant a victory over their struggle with immobility.
Meet Mezahir Gasimov
This farmer in rural Saatli obtained a loan for his business start-up. Like so many other landmine victims, Mezahir’s personal tragedy affected not just him but his entire family.
Fortunately, Mezahir was able to access a micro-loan to renovate a small lake on his family’s property and begin a fish farming business.
“I was able to purchase 1,000 small fish and had enough funds to provide them with food. After eight months, my family was able to sell 450 fish and the income has allowed us to expand our business while paying back the micro-credit. This opportunity has allowed me to provide for my family again.”
This project doesn’t stop at financial support. We’re applying a holistic approach – from providing survivors with rejuvenating medical spa treatments and wheelchairs, to organizing English and computer courses, to assisting the start of a carpet weaving factory.
Since implementing the micro-credit scheme, we have changed the lives of 40 landmine survivors and their 160 family members.
What do you think? Can the revolving micro-credit scheme be used to empower other victims of war?