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How Red Nose Day Has Empowered Women in Africa

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When your name is Scolastica there is, I'd imagine, a certain pressure to be that little bit special.

Luckily for the 33-year-old single mother and urban chicken farmer I met on a recent trip to Tanzania with Comic Relief, she has the memorable thing well and truly covered.

After setting her poultry business up in 2005, itself a brave step for a woman to make in such a patriarchal society, things ticked along relatively well.

Although she wasn't able to make enough money to lift herself and her young daughter out of the grinding poverty they faced, at least they kept their heads above water.

But when three years ago, a virus swept through her flock and killed 600 of her 900 birds in less than a week, even someone with the drive and determination of Scolastica thought her dream was over.

That's when Comic Relief stepped in and her luck began to change. Red Nose Day 2013 raised over £100million, and some of that money was matched by the UK government to help empower women across Africa. It has supported projects like the Gatsby Trust which are about one thing and one thing only, giving women entrepreneurs from the very poorest communities the assistance they need to help their businesses take root.

After receiving training on the right way to feed, vaccinate and care for her birds, TGT also taught Scolastica the absolutely crucial skills at the heart of every good small business, bookkeeping, reinvestment and planning.

With this practical assistance Scolastica has rebuilt her business and is on much sounder footing for the future.

What's at the heart of this work though isn't just business building, it's releasing the potential of these women which in turn gives them the confidence, self esteem and financial power to feed their families, send their children to school and begin to break down the cycle of poverty for good.

Before I left Tanzania a new case came in for TGT to look at.

Ashura and her husband Shabani bought a plot of land eight years ago, prudently built their lovely little home and had three children.

It was hard but they were making steady progress. His job as a mechanic was secure but he needed to taxi people around on his motorbike to make ends meet and he also bought his young wife four ducks so she could sell eggs from home to help out financially too.

They were doing everything a young couple should to carve a life out for themselves in incredibly harsh circumstances.

Then, while Shabani was doing a taxi job, he was hit and killed, leaving Ashura alone with three children and a shattered dream.

This 29-year-old mother has been forced to send her two eldest children four hours away to her parents so they can continue to be educated.

All she has left in terms of income is the ducks her husband bought her, but she desperately needs help to turn that kernel into a genuine business in order to survive and in time hopefully thrive.

Luckily for her, her tragic story has reached TGT and she has a chance to turn things around and follow in the amazing Scolastica's footsteps.

Thanks to the money you raised for Red Nose Day, and match funding from the UK government, cash is already hard at work changing the lives of women and girls across Africa. Visit www.facebook.com/ukdfid or comicrelief.com for more information.

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