This program is about training and support groups in churches, clubs, associations to tackles pertinent social issues. We tackle poverty through worldview change, form cooperatives, provide seed capital (kuremera), train youth dropouts in marketable skills (catering, decoration, photography,..). We support vulnerable women and youth to form support groups, contribute to form a common fund and come up with business ideas. We accompany them in business ventures until they can run independent.
We also help churches, local and government to formulate a response to community challenges. These can be community work (umuganda) to build a community hall, sport event to promote unity, youth camp to address the issues of drugs, women meeting to find strategies to eradicate Gender
A significant part of our community outreach is the development of income-generating initiatives, or co-operatives. One of the most successful of these has been the Burinda group of widows and elderly women, who were initially provided with three pigs. They each pay a small contribution to be part of the co-operative, and whenever a member’s pig has piglets, she gives three away to other women in the group. One of the repercussions of such massive loss and displacement during the genocide is that it now falls to many of these older women to look after and provide for young children, and having a pig allows them to trade or sell for farming land, or for books, clothes or food for their grandchildren. In reality, the co-operative is not only a precious income-generating scheme, but it has grown into an invaluable support network, with the women meeting regularly, sharing struggles, and encouraging each other.
Much of our community outreach has been focussed in the Rubavu region, and students from the annual International School of Reconciliation in Ndera travel to Rubavu for three days of community outreach as part of their programme. This might involve helping to build a kitchen or toilet for a genocide survivor, planting trees to prevent soil erosion, or teaching local families about hygiene and sanitation.
Over the last 20 years, we have seen miraculous transformation and restoration in the lives of individuals and families, and we continue to believe that the future of Rwanda will be secured through healed and empowered communities.
As I was helping others, I was also receiving the full supplement of my healing. – Odette