Why do we work in Rwanda?
Our investment in Rwanda began 17 years ago in the long shadow of genocide. The systematic torture and rape of between 250,000 and 500,000 women and the loss of an estimated 800,000 to more than 1,000,000 lives tore apart families and communities, leaving women as the majority of survivors. The challenge to create a lasting peace includes committing to integrating women at all levels of renewal.
From our first classroom of 25 women to the 66,000 women we now have served, our commitment to ensuring Rwandan women can access the skills and support they need to transform their lives inspires our work. Women are leading the rebuilding of their country, from rural villages to the national parliament, where women hold 64 percent of the seats, and we are proud to stand with them.
What you help us do in Rwanda
In Rwanda, we work with underserved women to create economic opportunities so that their families and communities become more prosperous. Stronger women build stronger nations, and with access to knowledge and resources, women can help lead change towards peaceful and stable societies. Our programs are currently spread across six districts in Rwanda, including: Gasabo, Kayonza, Kicukiro, Muhanga, Nyaruguru, and Rwamagana.
With the support of individuals and key partners, we are investing in women’s vocational and business skills to help them increase their income and transform their lives. Our programs help women improve their health, understand and access their rights, and build connections and networks with other women to pursue new opportunities together. As women gain new skills, WfWI is creating numerous partnerships with the public and private sector to support their economic empowerment and access to jobs. Among these, our partnerships with Sustainable Harvest and Gahaya Links provide training for women in new income-generating fields, such as coffee production and garment manufacturing, and open new markets for them to sell their products.
To further our commitment to help women build economic opportunities in Rwanda, we opened our first Women’s Opportunity Center in Kayonza, Rwanda in 2013. Through this Center, the women of Kayonza and beyond will hone their skills in income-generating fields like coffee production, sharing best practices in business and creating a social enterprise that will drive economic growth across the region.
Since 1997 we have trained over 66,000 women across Rwanda. With support of key partners, we have developed Monitoring and Evaluation systems to track progress and adapt to the needs of women. The results are positive.
- 100% are saving income to invest in their future
- 100% are involved in household finance decisions
- 96% practice good nutrition
- 97% participate in a social network or group
- 97% 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."