Why do we work in Rwanda?
Imagine you lost everyone you loved in a senseless and terrifying month of violence.
During the massacre, you had a choice: kill or be killed. You saw your friends and neighbors turned into murderers, rapists, looters or torturers.
You cannot forget. But you must continue to live—with yourself and with the people around you. Years later, you still have bad dreams. And your country is still struggling to recover.
You live in poverty, raising a family on your own. You adopted children who were orphaned by genocide and AIDS and raised them as yours, sharing what little you have.
This is today's Rwanda.
What you help us do in Rwanda
Our programs in Rwanda include direct financial aid, rights awareness classes, job-skills training and emotional support. The one-year program was developed for Rwanda’s special challenges and demands, and includes vocational training that helps women earn an income and support themselves, through:
Commercial Integrated Farming Initiative (CIFI) — teaching women to make an income off the land with organic farming techniques geared toward commercial production
Tailoring — giving women the training they need to operate sewing machines and perform tailoring and clothing production
Other courses include:
- Hair plaiting
Women for Women International has operated in Rwanda since 1997. Our programs have helped more than 36,000 women in 18 communities.
Among Women for Women International-Rwanda program participants and graduates:
- 92% report improvements in both physical and mental health
- 93% report improvements in their economic situation
- 98% are saving income to invest in their future
- 92% are actively participating in key household decisions
- 77% leave the program with knowledge of their legal rights
Rebecca's older sister and brothers were killed in the Rwandan genocide of 1994. She grieved their loss and eventually moved on, marrying and starting a family of her own.
But her life became very hard again when her husband was imprisoned, leaving her alone to care for their three children. Rebecca became very ill, and thought she had contracted AIDS. She felt hopeless.
Rebecca joined Women for Women International, and immediately began receiving a stipend from her sponsor, which she used to buy health insurance for herself. She received health awareness training, which led her to realize that she was suffering from malaria, not AIDS. She now uses a mosquito net, and is no longer ill.
Rebecca's sponsor in the U.S. shares the same name as the sister Rebecca lost in 1994: Beth. Rebecca says, "Beth has become my sister, my family, she means everything to me. I will always keep [her] letters where there is no rain."