Caregivers Establish Palm Oil Processing Mill to Raise Money for Vulnerable Children

{Photo credit: Musa Usman/MSH Nigeria}Caregivers sorting by-products during oil production.Photo credit: Musa Usman/MSH Nigeria

Nigeria is home to nearly two million AIDS orphans. Providing for these children is challenging for the nation’s many impoverished residents and communities. Without proper care and support, vulnerable children often face discrimination, neglect, abandonment, malnutrition, abuse, trafficking, and forced labor.

In response to these conditions, caregivers in Nigeria are raising money so they can more effectively care for vulnerable children. In 2011, inspired by a household economic strengthening workshop facilitated by the PEPFAR-funded, USAID project, Community Based Support for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (CUBS), a small group of caregivers in Akwa Ibom State established a palm oil processing mill.

The palm oil mill in Akwa Ibom State has been running for almost two years and, during peak seasons, yields approximately US$400 per month. The ten caregivers running the mill use these profits to pay for food, clothing, school fees, school materials, and medical bills for 50 vulnerable children.

“I used to struggle to earn 50 naira [about US$0.30] a day, but now I have money to buy food and books for my children,” said Callista Udo David, a caregiver group member.

“Since they started producing this oil they have bought me a uniform, school sandals, a school bag, and books. These have helped me improve my grades,” said 10-year-old Etiyin Friday Peter.

In addition to the palm oil group, CUBS is helping over 70 other caregivers begin small businesses in Akwa Ibom State. To date, over 1,000 caregivers have participated in CUBS household economic strengthening workshop where they have learned a variety of business skills including strategic planning, marketing, record keeping, and saving.

CUBS and its implementer, Management Sciences for Health, also train caregivers in child care skills including food preparation, nutrition, basic health care, and HIV & AIDS prevention and care.

*Names of caregivers and beneficiaries have been changed to protect their privacy