Dr Sakina is a remarkable woman with a remarkable story to tell. This is a story not just about personal achievements in the face of adversity but of also of building a supportive community for people who are otherwise marginalised.
In Nigeria, having any kind of disability can mean the odds are seriously stacked against you, culturally (‘take your bad luck and go’), economically (‘you can’t contribute anything’) and spiritually (beliefs that God does not give you more than you can bear). Dr Sakina lost her left arm when she was a child and was faced with overcoming all the cultural stereotypes that threatened to impact her future.
Dr Sakina determinedly pursued her academic interests, leading her to complete a post graduate master’s degree, then a PhD in medicinal insects. From her studies she developed an interest in beekeeping and started looking for local beekeepers to learn more about bees. What she learnt captivated Sakina and she became a beekeeper herself, starting with traditional beekeeping from local beekeepers. Sakina’s thirst for knowledge left her wanting to learn more, she jumped at the chance to learn about modern beekeeping with Bees Abroad.
Dr Sakina saw a need to help other women who shared her struggles with disability and the stigma of being divorced. In Nigeria, and many other countries in sub-Saharan Africa, being divorced or widowed brings stigma that compounds the challenge of going from a dual-income family to a single-income family. Family relationships and support networks can also be seriously negatively impacted.
Driven by her desire to help others who face similar challenges, Dr Sakina founded Women Agricultural Development Forum (WADF) in 2018. Bees Abroad started working with WADF in April 2020. Initially, 24 beekeepers were trained, with another 40 trained in 2021.
Unlike Dr Sakina who’s an accomplished academic, many of the women in WADF are illiterate. For these women, who are already marginalised, and with little formal education, earning a living is an extremely hard task. The WADF has been a lifeline and beekeeping is the only source of income for many members of the group.
Dr Sakina has leveraged the relationship with Bees Abroad to grow her NGO to reach more and more women and she has ambitions to grow it further. Lots of women approach the group and ask for support and training. The demand for beekeeping knowledge is growing. Dr Sakina wants to package more honey (suitable containers can be hard to come by) and make other products such as bees wax based creams.
She herself has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge on beekeeping, she aims to deepen her knowledge alongside her studies on pests and diseases that affect bees. This Bees Abroad project is in its final year, but there’s always more that can be done. Dr Sakina’s story is the perfect proof that ‘This Beekeeper Can’.
If you want to support beekeepers and groups like Dr Sakina and WADF we have a great opportunity for you! From the 28th November – 5th December all donations will be doubled – one donation, double the impact. We can’t do what we do without your support, so thank you!
This story is part of a series of stories we will be sharing over the next month as we celebrate the campaign ‘This Beekeeper Can’. Stay tuned to hear more stories, join our events or enter our prize draw.