“It is only now that I realize the great force of my wife, who paid the school fees for our children, put food on the table, and even paid for their healthcare," Mukanire Fungulo, Aimérance’s widower reflects.
We are often touched by the stories of the women who enrol in our programmes. Their stories are always inspiring and thought-provoking, but also sometimes sad.
Aimérance’s story is all of these.
She enrolled in our programme in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 2014. Our staff describe her as being ‘very dynamic,' fighting passionately for women’s access to land, together with other members of her local advocacy group.
After graduation, Aimérance enrolled in a Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA), something we help our programme graduates to set up for themselves. VLSAs are an effective way for women to save together when they may otherwise not have access to traditional financial institutions. Women meet weekly and pay money into a central pot, which can be loaned to members as they need it with reasonable interest rates. Members get back their original investment plus any interest earned at the end of one year, and can decide to reinvest if they wish.
Aimérance remained active in her VSLA throughout her seventh pregnancy. However, her life took a devastating turn upon going into labour, when the local health centre judged that her baby was in an unsafe position to be born and sent her to the nearest hospital – an 8 km drive away.
Tragically, neither Aimérance or her child survived the journey.
Heartbroken by their sudden loss, her husband and six surviving children grieved for Aimérance , but also had to arrange and pay for her funeral. Thankfully, Aimérance’s VSLA assisted, donating from the group’s fund.
Her VSLA continued to distribute what Aimérance had earned to her husband. He was astonished to find that his wife’s investment had swelled her original contribution by an impressive 38%. Not only did he now appreciate the crucial role that his wife had played in supporting their family, but also the remarkable success which had come from women investing together.
In fact, he was so impressed that he asked to continue as part of the VSLA himself. He now invests alongside local women, praising the initiative and advising men to support their female family members to get involved in a VSLA.
Aimérance has left a great legacy to her family and community. It is rare for women in the DRC to leave such a sizeable gift to their loved ones, but through the skills, knowledge, and connections she gained through Women for Women International’s programme, Aimérance was able to do just that.
Of course, this was only possible because of supporters like you. Thank you.
Women for Women International relies on gifts in wills and voluntary donations to continue our vital work to help women like Aimérance and their families.
After you have protected the future of your own family, you can help women rebuild communities that have been torn apart by conflict by leaving your own legacy – a gift in your will to Women for Women International. If you are interested in learning more, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0207 922 7765.
We hope you found inspiration in Aimérance’s story.