“Before I came to the club, I was not obeying my parents, I was difficult. I used to spend my money on drinks. I felt that I could not sit with a girl and talk to her.

Then the community based volunteers (CBV) who is our neighbor invited me to join a youth club. This day, when I joined the club, they had a lesson about drugs. After the session, I went home and felt that it did not touch me. I thought that these people may be crazy. But as the time passed, I attended, I started to like it.

I progressively changed. After receiving good lessons, I felt satisfied, I changed, I started to learn the lessons, and learned to work, socializing, with others, and liking others. I approached my former friends and taught them lessons, three attended the club. I became the president of the youth club.

The best teaching are how to avoid drugs, HIV prevention and STIs, unwanted pregnancies, and love in general, but on top of all, I learned the importance of working and to improve my life economically.

My message to the youth is that we are still at the beginning, we should work together, work with commitment which will lead us to achievements and improve our life.

I thank everybody who had the idea to start the USAID Twiyubake youth club, the one who taught us, the person who made me change and the group members, we are holding together to get where we are."

Emile M. 21 years, President of the Twiyubake youth club in Huye district, Huye sector.

Africa Improved Foods (AIF) Rwanda Limited donated one ton of Nootri Toto and Nootri Mama Porridge flour to the USAID Twiyubake program. The products packed in 50 kg bags were distributed to 20 ECD centers in 12 districts of program implementation at the start of the new school year in January 2018. The 20 ECD centers were selected according to children in most need of nutrition support.

In collaboration with local authorities, USAID Twiyubake established ECD centers in the 12 districts of program implementation. The program selected and trained facilitators and caregivers living in the community who run those centers together with the children’s parents. In addition, it equipped the center with basic materials and encourages parents to make children’s toys from locally available materials.

Early childhood development builds on education, child growth, nutrition and hygiene. The centers which are community owned, operate from Monday to Friday from 8:00 to 11:00 am and prepare children aged 3-5 years for formal schooling. In the parenting group, parents acquire positive parenting skills and organize themselves to take turns in caring for the children.

The ECD Kavumu in Ruhango sector, Rutsiro district, was grateful for the donation “We are so grateful for the donation of Nootri Toto porridge flour. Please convey our gratitude to AIF. The donation is a motivation for us to start providing feeding to children attending the center, “explained Habitegeko Francois, president of the ECD Kavumu.

“As we do not cultivate sorghum in Rutsiro, the only porridge flour we could offer our children is maize flour. We will start collecting and stocking maize cobs from our fields here at the ECD center. We will grind them to make flour, “explained Francois.

“Starting an ECD center is not easy. Before we were trained under USAID Twiyubake Program implemented by Caritas Rwanda in Rutsiro, we faced several challenges. At the beginning, we had not a room and met outside next to the primary school. Eventually, the Catholic Church offered the chapel to host the children, but there was no sanitation facility nearby”, explained the president.

The parents committee is keen on hygiene. After the break, children rowed up in front of the tippy tap to wash their hands. Then they entered the chapel to have the porridge.

“These are our children. They had not a chance to attend early childhood education before Twiyubake. We have been trained to care for them and now have the knowledge to organize ourselves to run an ECD center. Although we are not all motivated the same way, we realized that when few begin to be convinced, other community members will support you. Today we bring our children to the ECD center which was not imaginable one year ago”, explained care giver Florence N.

The ECD is hosting 45 children of which 14 are program beneficiaries. 31 children are living in the community and joined as a result of a strong mobilization on the importance of early childhood development. The children are coming from six neighboring villages which are Kayeve, Muzeyi, Muhingo, Marabuye, Murambe and have to walk up to 4 km to join the center. Caregivers who come from one of the villages bring the children with them when volunteering at the center.

The program is currently establishing home-based ECD sites and playgroups for children to release children from the long distances to walk to reach ECD centers.

 Jean Marie M. is a 36 years old father of 6 children, 5 girls and 1 boy. He is living in Myatino village, Urugarama cell, Gahini sector, Kayonza district. Jean Bosco is a USAID Twiyubake program beneficiary and also a community based volunteer (CBV) overseeing saving groups. He also coordinates all CBVs in his cell.

During the ISLG sessions, Jean Marie gained a lot of skills and knowledge about business development especially from the community finance initiative trainings. This increased his aspirations to start a business.

When the USAID Twiyubake program switched from cash payment to online transfer for payments, program beneficiaries opened a mobile money account to receive those payments.

Jean Marie saw an opportunity to start a fruitful business as a mobile money agent. He bought a phone for Rwf 15,000 (US $ 17) using the money he had got from selling his vegetables from the kitchen gardens at his house. He took a loan of Rwf 25,000 (US $ 29) from his saving group Inshuti z’umurimo, and took Rwf 55,000 (US $ 64) he earned from his banana and maize yield.

He started with a capital of Rwf 80,000 (US $ 94) and shortly afterwards, he got 20 customers. His capital increased quickly because he transferred the money for many Twiyubake beneficiaries. He now has reached an operating capital of Rwf 200,000 (US $ 234).

In June 2016, Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Rwanda (FXB) established the USAID Twiyubake supported Tuzamurane saving group located in Rusisiro village, Kayenzi cell, Kagogo sector, Burera district. The program trained the saving group on financial literacy and the saving with education methodology. Kagogo sector is among sectors designed to receive USAID Twiyubake household economic strengthening (HES) – only services, so the saving group is not receiving any additional services from the program. The group is composed of 21 members - 11 females and 10 men.

In only one year, the members were able to improve the socio-economic status of their households. They managed to share out Rwf 2,800,000 (US $ 3,289) after one year of saving and received a match on their savings of Rwf 1,200,000 (US $ 1,409) from the program. The group was motivated by their progress and started to think of starting an income generating activity. When they started their second saving cycle on August 17th 2017, their aim was to save enough to start viable small businesses that would generate income for their group and families. Following a brief survey of the market and discussions among members, the group opted to invest in a basket weaving business. They hired a trainer to teach them how to weave baskets and bought materials from the saved money to get started. The members also started individual businesses and used these as outlets to sell the baskets.

Within only four months after starting their second saving cycle, and starting their weaving business, the group managed to accumulate savings of Rwf 1,206,000 (US $ 1,417). Every week, members generate a minimum of Rwf 14,000 (US $ 16) from their personal business, in addition to selling the baskets.

The lives of group members have changed significantly. Everyone in the group has a goat and an additional personal income generating activity. Their living conditions have been transformed and they are no longer struggling to have something to eat as it was before the program intervened. They are able to meet the basic needs of all their children. The group has a bank account at Umurenge SACCO and has applied for a loan to further invest in the basket weaving business. Different stakeholders are promising to help them find markets for their baskets.

Recently, the group conducted a market survey and found out that in their area there is no milk collection center. They are now planning to establish a small milk collection center, as a second group income generating activity. They plan to invest around Rwf 2,500,000 (US $ 2,937) in this project. The group has already taken the first step towards this goal and has obtained a written permit and approval from the district authorities. They are currently working closely with the sector to find a house where they can set up the business and start collecting milk from local farmers. This project is expected to start in February 2018. The group has become a useful avenue for members to converge and discuss their challenges, and find ways to overcome them.

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