Theonille with her sewing machine

 

Chantal started as a tailor

 

“I grew up in a poor family. When I was young, I learned sewing, but never had a chance to practice it. As I wanted to break out of poverty, I got married at an early age. Instead everything went wrong. It happened that we were not able to feed our children for two consecutive days. I used to work on neighboring fields and as a house help for very little money. In 2016, Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Rwanda (FXB) enrolled my household in the USAID Twiyubake program. When I received the monthly conditional household grant, I increased my saving shares and bought a sewing machine. Now, I sew clothes and earn Rwf 45,000 (US $ 54) per month. I am self-reliant and maybe in the near future I may employ other women in the area.” Chantal D., 29 years, married, two children, living in Kinoni sector, Burera district.

Jean Bosco in the shop he is running with his friend Jean d AmourJean de Dieu, 24, and Jean Paul, 23 years, are living in Musanze sector. They share a similar fate: Jean Paul lost his parents in 2006 and Jean de Dieu one year later in 2007. Since then they both had to care for their little brothers and sisters.

“We knew each other since we were children, we went to school together. Jean de Dieu completed secondary school while I only went for 9 years basic education as I was not able to pay for the school fees and basic needs,” explained Jean Paul.

“When we started taking care of our siblings, we became close friends. We used to talk about our lives and we couldn’t see any future for us and our siblings. We struggled many years and ended up with nothing,” added Jean de Dieu.

In 2006, Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Rwanda (FXB) enrolled the two young men in a USAID Twiyubake program’s saving group. Jean de Dieu became a community-based volunteers and Jean Paul was elected as saving group secretary. The program trained them on the saving with education methodology and community finance initiative. After being trained by the program, Jean de Dieu took a loan of Rwf 20,000 from the saving group and, together with savings he had made, started a second hand business.

Three months later, Jean de Dieu and Jean Paul attended the workforce readiness and career planning workshop, which equipped them with skills on finance and market literacy, business cycle, income generation, expenses and loan payment.

They decided to start a joint business and opened a small shop in which they sell soft drinks, food and other items that are needed in the community. They currently make a profit of Rwf 80,000 in a month.

“Our target is to expand our business and create jobs for the youth in our sector. I have been able to send back my two brothers to school and we have been able to generate income that helps us to cover our basic need, especially food. We thank USAID Twiyubake for having opened our minds and equipped us with skills,” acknowledged Jean de Dieu.

Joseph Habyarimana is 50 years old and lives in Rubona village, Gitwa cell, Rubengera Sector, Karongi District. He got married in 1990 and had four children with his first wife who passed away in 2008. Faced with such a difficult situation, Joseph realized that he was not able to take care of the four children alone and got married to Jeanne in 2009. In 2012, both Joseph and his wife tested HIV positive after he became seriously ill.

“It was very hard for me to accept this test result. I was put on antiretroviral therapy (ART) at the health center, but two years later, I stopped the treatment as I felt that these medicines were making me sick,” Joseph explained.

Concerned about his worsening health condition, Joseph’s wife started sharing her antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) with him and soon both begun to experience repeated episodes of opportunistic infections. “Although I was weak, I continued to refuse to take ART. Relatives and neighbors did not know that we were HIV positive, and often advised us to go for HIV testing. Fearing we would be stigmatized, we would tell them that we had taken the HIV test and were both negative. I was ashamed to disclose my status because of my advanced age,” explained Joseph.

Joseph and his wife were both getting weak and were unable to work to support their family. Their children were developing signs of illness as a result of undernutrition. They were not attending school either. “In June 2016, we were enrolled in the USAID Twiyubake program. Bernadette Mukantagara, a program case management volunteer (CMV) was assigned to help us. She conducted an assessment and helped us to develop a care plan. A couple of times she talked about HIV/AIDS and asked about our status, but we didn’t want to disclose to her. After a couple of visits we decided to disclose to her our HIV status. She learned that I was not taking ARVs and begun to persuade me to visit the clinic for treatment. It took her two months to convince me to go to the health center, but I finally went and started taking ARVs regularly. I had not visited a health center for the last four years. Since I resumed taking ART, I have regained my health and I am now able to work regularly to support my family. I am cultivating on my farm and renting land from neighbors to earn money for the family,” he revealed.

Joseph is a member of a saving group supported by the Twiyubake program. He has continued to save and hopes to take a loan to invest in an income generating activity. Through the saving group and CMV, Joseph and his family have learned a lot about saving, nutrition and sanitation. They practice some of the positive health behaviors promoted by the program, such as proper hand washing, positive nutrition, and the use of clean and covered latrines.

Joseph’s family did not have a latrine before they were enrolled in the program. However, the education he received on hygiene and sanitation from the CMV and other community-based volunteers motivated him to construct one.

In March 2017, Joseph was linked to and joined the Rwanda Network of People living with HIV (RRP+). He has become an active member of the network, participating in outreach activities and using his story to educate other people living with HIV about the importance of adherence to treatment.

gender training1In June 2017, USAID Twiyubake delivered a workshop on gender mainstreaming. The workshop was facilitated by Dr. Marcia Odell, Senior Director for Gender Equality Plan International, Jennifer Albee Plan’s Women Lead Institute in Washington and USAID Twiyubake Gender Advisor. Edouard Munyamaliza, the Executive Director of the Rwanda Men’s Resource Center, facilitated a session on fostering gender equality through positive masculinities using the MenEngage approach.

The workshop enabled program staff to get introduced to the gender mainstreaming tool developed by Plan International and to explore two paths for mainstreaming gender across the program, which are girls’ and women’s leadership development and male engagement in the life and work of families and communities.

 Connect with Us  Facebook7Twitter7