Nyirakiza Jeanne, aged 44, is married to Rugazura Alexis, 47. They have five children, three in secondary school and two in primary school. After joining the UNIBRA/SKOL sponsored development program, Jeanne narrates how she has made significant progress:
‘’Before joining the FXB Rwanda program, my life was very difficult. Feeding a family of seven, paying the mutual health insurance of my family and paying the school fees of my children was really challenging. Luckily, we were enrolled in this wonderful program. Since then, my life changed completely. We received nutritional support, the whole family had access to mutual health insurance and to top it all off my children received school materials, uniforms and benefited of school fees.
We have received numerous trainings in different areas such as health, nutrition, economic strengthening and many more. We have learned to plan for the future and set long-term goals that will enable us to be self-reliant even after the end of the program. After receiving training on income generating activities, we were provided with a start-up capital to launch income-generating activities of our choice. I started selling second-hand clothes and loincloths but changed this business after the Government of Rwanda banned the selling of used cloths; I changed the business and started the selling of small fishes. In the meantime, we had a family meeting and set a goal that had to be met before the end of program. Since we were living in a rental house, we decided that we would build our own house before the end of the program. In order to make this happen, we promised ourselves to save at least 1000 Rwf per day. By the end of 2018, we had saved 485,000 Frw, the money we used to start the construction of our house.
It was not easy, but progressively we built our house that was initially covered by five roofing tiles. With the courage, prayer and support of SKOL and FXB Rwanda we were able to build an 18 tiles house. Although there is still a lot of work to do, but we no longer rent, we live in our house’’
Jeanne asserts that the support provided by SKOL and FXB enabled them to develop holistically stating the example of her children’s school performance:
‘’ My children have considerably improved at school as proven by their school performance that is over 70%. We all feel motivated and optimistic.’’ It is with enthusiasm, optimism and determination that she describes her plans: ‘’ we always think about future plans that will help us fructify FXB and SKOL support and exhaust all the opportunities.
For example, we have started another small project in our community. In order to deal with the water shortage, we made a water tank that could contain up to 4,500 liters. Therefore, we will have a plan B in case of water shortage and could make money out of it by selling the water to our neighbors. In order to diversify the source of revenues as advised by FXB, we have developed additional income generation projects all together as a family:
I learned to make bag pearls and have already started making profit out of it as I can earn Rwf 5,000 or more per bag. My husband, who normally do a part-time job as a night watchman, has now learned to sew. Even though sewing is generally considered as a profession of women, my husband and overcame these biased mentalities thanks to the training received on gender equality. He is excited to buy a sewing machine soon and begins his new profession.
Due to COVID-19 pandemic, the students are obliged to stay at home because the schools are closed as one of the COVID-19 preventive measures adopted by the country. As parents, we have to ensure our children revise their lessons and use their free time fruitfully. We were caught off-guard when they announced us that they wanted to run small income generating activities. For now, the three older sisters ventured in the business of envelop manufacturing. These are paper envelop locally made and widely used by the community. They say that they can earn up to Rwf 7,000 per week, the money they use wisely by complementing their parents' efforts. The two young boys started raising chickens. They have six hens now, yet, they began with one hen. You can see that my whole family has become entrepreneurs. Ha-ha’’
“We are now confident and optimistic about the future. I do not have appropriate words to express my gratitude to FXB Rwanda and SKOL, thank you for everything ‘’ She concludes.