By Elias Hakizimana
Becoming an orphan, and dropping out of school after primary studies at a tender age around 2000, Françoise Mutuyimana, now a 35-year-old mother, had to lead a lonely, desperate life deprived of basic needs such as food because of poverty.
Sitting in a small and almost dilapidated house in Jabana Sector of Gasabo District, the then teenage girl had a pessimistic outlook on life as she was living miserably.
The turn of events came with the implementation of a World Vision project which started in 2000, to support and enable vulnerable families to subsequently lead a happy life.
This project “Buliza area program” came to an end on September 26, 2017.
“I was leading a very miserable life before as I was a vulnerable orphan and I was living alone,” she expressed.
“I was struggling to get food when I was living alone as a young orphan girl,” she said.
Realising that she could not afford conventional secondary school education owing to poverty, she decided to register for Technical Vocational Education and Training at Mayange TVET School, in 2002, but failed to meet fees requirement due to very limited financial capacity.
But, since 2003, after acquiring tailoring skills through the support of the World Vision’s project, she testifies that her life changed for the better in line with self-reliance.
Mutuyimana said she got married, and managed to build a house worth about Rwf8 million (about $6 million), of which some Rwf5 million (about $4,000) revenues, came from tailoring thanks to the interventions from World Vision’s program.
“I also managed to connect it (the house) with electricity and I bought a television set,” Mutuyimana, now mother of four, said adding that can also afford school fees for her children..
Currently, she also raises small livestock such as goats and hens which also play a big role in improving nutrition and livelihood for her family.
“I am now a professional tailor. I helped the teacher to train others [in tailoring] through a job competition offered by world vision. I taught 50 children during two years,” Mutuyimana said.
“World Vision helped us to graduate from poverty category as there is no one left in poverty in our cooperative ‘heaven of hope — the group made up with the beneficiaries of tailoring skills,” she said.
The cooperative of carries out tailoring activities including contracts with choirs, schools, whereby each member has bought livestock such as cows, and others built houses.
The major achievements of the program were registered in sectors including education sector, health and nutrition, food security and economic empowerment, improved access to quality education, improved applied life skills, improved access to maternal and child health services interventions in HIV Prevalence reduction, community empowerment through village savings and loan associations (VSLA), peace building as well as child protection.
Other beneficiaries’ tesimonies
Peteronille Mukamana also benefited from the project’s training in making crafts materials.
“We make wallets and hats in leather to earn money for our food security,” Mukamana said.
For Jean Marie Vianney Nizeyimana, a young boy in his 20s, from Jabana Sector of Gasabo District, lost hid parents at 3 while he was 3-year-old. He started getting support from World Vision project support at 5.
“After my grandmother passed on, I stayed alone but world Vision became ‘my parent’, they comforted me and taught me how to pray God, they supported my education by providing me with small livestock, and I have a secondary school certificate,” he said before adding “they gave me iron sheets and I have a house, [and] I have a successful hope of life and I am ready to support my community.”
Since its inception in Rwanda in 1994, World Vision had to respond to the unprecedented poverty in a society whose social fabric was split apart by the by the genocide perpetrated against the Tutsi in which a million of people died. The organisation, therefore, provided emergency help to the displaced, cared for unaccompanied children, and helped people resettle as they returned home.
For this particular area (Buliza) in which the program started in October 2000, it helped 1,900 children and indirectly impacted 94,749 men, women and children, youth including all vulnerable groups in general.
Abebe Nigatu, People and Culture Director in World Vision Rwanda who spoke on behalf of the Country Director pointed that most of key targeted areas of the program were achieved as for low health facility access which moved from 40 to 30 percent as well as school dropout reduced from 14 to 3 percent.
“We will continue to preserve these achievements, we tried to find long term solutions to big problems of this country and in that time agriculture, education, and health care were at lower level. As we close, we believe community will continue to sustain achievements,” Nigatu said.
The Governor of Northern Province Gatabazi Jean Marie Vianney said that the achievements of the program should be a sustainable way to overcome poverty, to graduate from the first Ubudehe category — composed of of the most vulnerable group of people, to the next level for self-reliance.
“We need people to shift from the 1st [Ubudehe] category to the 4th of Ubudehe [Category]; we need to we need enhance economic empowerment in families to ensure comprehensive welfare improvement for communities,” Gatabazi noted.