On Thursday June 2 2022, Jesuit Urumuri Centre assistant director Mr. Pierre Nyandwi, SJ travelled to Umushumba Mwiza village and afterwards to Cyahafi slum to visit the beneficiaries of the women empowerment project and assess their progress in their respective training areas. The project also dubbed “Long walk to recovery-post Covid-19” was initiated to accompany women-led families most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The project’s beneficiaries are women who lost their sources of income from informal jobs such as vending. This project takes beneficiaries through vocational training in either baking, tailoring or hairdressing and then helps them set up businesses afterwards.
After successfully taking an initial group of 45 women and men through the project in 2021 and successfully setting up their businesses, the centre was grateful to have been able to take on another group of 60 beneficiaries from the slums of Nyagatovu, Nyabisindu and Cyahafi. This group begun their training in March 2022.
The first stop of Pierre’s visits was at TVET le Bon Pasteur Umushumba mwiza where he was able to witness all groups receiving their training. There were cooking, tailoring and hairdressing groups. Pierre expressed his delight at the beneficiaries’ eagerness and enthusiasm to learn, encouraging them to keep up the good work “I have been sent by my superior to see if what he sent you here to do is being done and I am happy to say that I will give him a good report. Clearly you’re doing very well and learning with such passion, thank you for working towards the integral development of yourselves and your families.”
He then listened to beneficiaries testimonies who shared the following;
Jacques Rukundo: “I am in the hairdressing group and I thank you for having been selected for this training. I not only know how to cut hair but I also know how to braid women’s hair. I can confidently say that if I walked into a hair saloon, I would be able to earn an income.”
Francine Nzamwitakuze: “I didn’t think I was capable of going through this training. My classmates can attest to this, I cried often in the first days because I was overwhelmed by the thought of learning something new. I wondered how I could put on this uniform like my children do when they are going to school. Today I am overwhelmed by how far I have come, I am impressed by the skills I have learnt. When I get home I usually visit my neighbors to ask them if I can braid them. It has been such a transformation for me.”
Pascazia Muhawenimana: “I too am grateful because I have gained much in this training. The dress I am wearing is one I sewed myself. I know how to sew a shirt, skirt and bags too now. This will definitely help to source an income for my family.”
Karara: “I echo my colleagues in sharing my growth in this training. I now know how to bake and cook food. I will be able to work as a baker or a chef in the future.”
The next stop of the day saw Mr. Pierre in Cyahafi where he visited with the baking group. The group has completed their 3 month training and has begun its attachment at the same bakery they trained at. Here also, beneficiaries expressed gratitude to Jesuit Urumuri Centre for the skills they have gained in the short space of time and the accompaniment they have received during their attachment.
Mr. Pierre encouraged this group too reminding them that their attachment will come to an end and that they should think about how they will work together in co-operatives when that time comes. Before parting with them, he listened to their testimonies where they shared the following;
Gislain Mugunga: “On behalf of us all thank you for what you have done for us and what you continue to do. You found us working, we have been baking bread, scones and Andazi. We are looking forward for what’s to come next.”
Arlette Nyirarugendo: “Thank you for having thought of a project such as this one. We are almost done with our attachment and getting ready for the job market. We are content in general for having received this opportunity.”
Mr. Pierre’s visit was preceded by one that JUC director Fr. Ernest Ngiyembere, SJ together with then JUC programs manager Ms Gloriose Umubyeyi paid to the project beneficiaries at the beginning their training. During said occasion, Fr. Ernest had encouraged beneficiaries urging them to work hard and remain focused on the overall goal of the project “I would like you all to improve the well-being of your families, which will be achieved through diligence. If you even notice your colleague not putting their best foot ahead, please advise them to change because he/she might the one that costs you your future co-operatives”.
JUC Communication Officer