In Rwanda, HIV prevalence is highest among the youth, ages 20-24. Among female sex workers (FSW) in this age group, HIV prevalence is estimated to be 45.8 percent. It is against this background that the DREAMS (Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS Free, Mentored and Safe) was launched to address structural drivers of HIV among adolescent girls and young women (AGYW), including poverty, gender inequality, sexual violence, and a lack of education, in five districts.

Global Communities/USAID Twiyubake is implementing DREAMS activities in two of the five districts – Kicukiro and Nyarugenge – with DUHAMIC ADRI and YWCA Rwanda, respectively, as the local implementers. Following the launch of DREAMS in both districts, field officers worked closely with local authorities, community health workers (CHWs) and Friends of the Family volunteers (Inshuti z’Umuryango), community-based child and family protection volunteers, to identify most vulnerable girls and young women aged 10-24 years.

Drocella, a widow and mother of six children, is the Inshuti z’Umuryango Coordinator for Tetero cell, Nyarugenge district. She actively supported the identification of eligible girls for the DREAMS initiative in her cell. As an advocate of child rights, Drocella believes DREAMS could never have come at a better time than now. "This program is much needed in this cell as there are two villages, which are known to have large numbers of young female sex workers and teen mums. Most of those teen mums even abandoned their children. Unfortunately, the older girls and women sell the younger ones in prostitution activities. A lot of young girls involved in prostitution activities used to be housekeepers. You can see the girls sitting in bars and along the roads at night. The older ones want to get out of prostitution, but the younger ones seem not to know that they are in trouble. They think that they have a very nice life compared to other girls. Female sex workers are the most difficult to reach, as they are hidden, working at night," she explained.

"During a beneficiary enrollment event on March 15th, 2018, at Tetero cell, we enrolled 16 teen mums and 24 other girls assumed to be FSWs based on information we received from their peers. Drocella and the cell office helped us mobilize the girls for enrollment. Only one girl out of the 24 assumed to be FSWs admitted to be a FSW – others just indicated they were jobless on their enrollment form," explained Leonie Nyiramahoro, DREAMS Field Officer at DUHAMIC ADRI.

At the end of the enrollment event, the Executive Secretary of Tetero cell, congratulated the girls for enrolling in the program, and assured them they would be provided with skills to protect themselves from HIV and other health conditions. He encouraged them to be mindful of and follow all the teaching they will receive. "This program will enable you to develop and pursue goals for your future, and you should be disciplined and take all sessions and activities seriously. Remember that AIDS remains the leading cause of death among adolescent girls, and all efforts to address this problem are so critically important, he added.

Leonie Nyiramahoro, DREAMS Field Officer at DUHAMIC ADRI, also enrolled young girls aged 10-14 who had dropped out of school in Nyabugogo cell, Nyarugenge district. Solange, a 12 year-old girl, is grateful to be part of the DREAMS initiative. She left school in primary 4 (P4), two years ago, and hopes that the program will help her to get back to school. She does not know her parents. She grew up with an aunt. Two years ago, her aunt dropped her at the house of the women she lives now, and never came back. For two years, she has not been to school. The woman she lives with now is very poor. She sells charcoal on the roadside, but promised she would never send her away.

Tharcisse comes from a very poor family in Kaje village, Ngoma cell, Nyabirasi sector, Rutsiro district. After finishing secondary school, he was hoping to become a primary school teacher or Cell Executive Secretary. However, he quickly realized that this dream may not come true. His life took a new turn when he joined “Duteraninkunga Ngoma” youth saving group, supported by Caritas Rwanda, the USAID Twiyubake’s implementing partner in Rutsiro district.

The program provided trainings to the youth saving group members on saving and loan management, work readiness, business planning and helped him explore new business opportunities.

He borrowed Rwf 20,000 (US$ 23) refundable in one month and begun to sell potatoes and charcoal in different trading centers as his core business. He increased his shares from Rwf 400 to 1000, and after nine months took another loan of Rwf 125,000 (US$ 145). He added Rwf 93.000 (US$ 108) he had earned and saved from his business and opened a barber shop in Nyabirasi center, where he earns on average Rwf 60000 (US$ 68) every month. With knowledge and skills obtained through Twiyubake’s business development and work readiness session, he capitalized on the opportunity provided through the program to venture into energy supply business. He signed a contract with Mobisol Rwanda Ltd., an international private company, to purchase solar energy equipment at the cost of Rwf 561,600 (US$ 653), payable within 36 months in monthly installments of Rwf 15,600 (US$ 17). Though this business only started recently, he is already earning Rwf 60000(US$ 68) every month from commission on his sales.

In addition, Tharcisse bought a plot in Nyabirasi center for Rwf 350,000 (US$ 408), where he is planning to build his own house.

“I am very proud that I was able to benefit from USAID Twiyubake program. Now, I believe that I am on track towards economic self-reliance. Thanks to the Twiyubake teachings and the youth saving group,” he concluded.

Vedaste grew up in a very poor family of five children in Kibilizi village, Rusagara cell, Mbazi sector, Huye District.

He was enrolled in USAID Twiyubake Program in 2016 and joined a Twiyubake supported youth savings group. He also attended work readiness training delivered by DUHMIC ADRI, USAID Twiyubake’s implementing partner in Huye district. As results of joining the savings group and participating in various skills development activities, he started his own business that generates Rwf 20,000 (US$ 23) per month.

Vedaste explained the whole process he went through to become a self-reliant person: “In the youth saving group, I took a loan of Rwf 3,000 (US$ 3.5) to plant tomatoes. I earned Rwf 30,000 (US$ 35) from the first harvest. With this money, I bought two pigs for Rwf 20,000 (US$ 23) and used 10,000 Rwf (US$ 11.67) to plant eggplants. After harvesting the eggplants, I sold them for Rwf 60,000 (US$ 70) and bought a bicycle for Rwf 55,000 (US$ 64). I then thought that I needed a plot of land to expand vegetable farming. I decided to sell my pig for 40,000 Rwf (US$ 46), and added Rwf 40,000 (US$ 46) I obtained from the second harvest of eggplants, to buy a plot of land for Rwf 80,000 (US$ 93).”

Kabare sector inaugurated a newly constructed public toilet during the celebrations of the International World Water Day on April 18, 2018, witnessed by representatives of the district, CHAIN partners, local manufacturing companies and USAID Twiyubake team (Global Communities and Young Women's Christian Association of Rwanda).

The event featured a role play by the USAID Twiyubake-supported “New Hope Youth Club” on water, hygiene and sanitation, a testimony from a beneficiary, and speeches from different stakeholders, encouraging Kabare sector residents to embrace positive WASH behaviors and recognizing the achievement of the joint public private partnership.

Kayonza is one of the districts most affected by poor hygiene and sanitation conditions. According to the Rwanda Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) 2014-2015, 95.8 % of children under 5 in Kayonza district do not use pit latrines as they are unsafe, not covered, and often do not have a roof. The unsafe disposal of children’s feces is a contaminant in household environments, posing a high risk of exposure to children. In addition, 42.5% of children under 5 are suffering from stunting and 11 % from diarrhea. Only 33.5 % of households use a hand washing station with soap and water in Kayonza.

The six-door public toilet is intended to serve as a model to encourage the construction and use of safe covered latrines, and proper handwashing in households across the district. The construction followed the guidance set out in the Guideline of Latrine Technologies Usable in Rwanda (MININFRA 2011) provided by the WASH coordination office at the Ministry of Health.

To mobilize resources for the construction of the toilets, the USAID Twiyubake team initiated a broad outreach to local private manufacturing companies. Four private manufacturing companies – Ruliba Clay Ltd., Cimerwa Ltd., Petrocom Ltd., and Steelrwa Industries Ltd. - responded positively to the call and donated various construction materials for the project, as a demonstration of their corporate social responsibility to local communities. Ruliba donated bricks worth Rwf 800,000 (US$ 940), Cimerwa donated 20 bags of cement valued Rwf 170,000 (US$200), Steelrwa Industries donated reinforcing steel bars worth Rwf 95,400 (US$112), and Petrocom provided iron sheets worth Rwf 91,500 (US$108).

The largest contribution to this project was made by the Kabare sector and the local community, who availed Rwf 1 million (US$1,176), and free labor, respectively, to complete the project. The district of Kayonza coordinated the activity, while Kabare sector provided manpower and materials for the construction.YWCA staff contributed Rwf 120,000 for the doors.

Kayonza district authorities choose to build the public toilets next to the Kabare sector office in respect of the sector administration’s demonstrated efforts to promote WASH education and practices in the sector, and commitment to maintain the facility. In addition, the sector office is next to a very busy commercial center accessed by many people, making toilet facilities an absolute necessity.  

During the event, Diogene Zinarizina, Marketing Representative at Ruliba Clays Ltd., thanked the private companies for their trust to speak on their behalf. He expressed his company’s commitment to continue this collaboration to respond to the development goals of the community. He observed that a toilet solves a lot of issues around hygiene and sanitation, which had been showcased by the role play performed by the youth.

To the community, the Vice Mayor in charge of Social Affairs Mr. Jean Damascene Harerimana explained, “We should gratefully accept the value the private sector gave us through this donation, it is an opportunity for us to use this model to construct and maintain our toilets at home as we now understand the importance of a model pit latrine.” He encouraged Kabare sector residents to change their behavior towards hygiene and sanitation and to fight malnutrition through establishing kitchens gardens, planting a fruit trees and acquiring small livestock, which are endeavors supported by the present non-governmental partner organizations.”

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