Network for Africa is growing!
Thanks to a generous three-year grant from the UK Department for International Development we are starting a new project that will lift 450 women and their dependents out of poverty through education and vocational training.
The project is based in Rutunga, an isolated, rural area of Rwanda, where the surrounding beauty of Rwanda’s lush and rolling hills belies the hardship of daily life. Rutunga has no infrastructure – there is no direct access to water or electricity, forcing women to spend on average 15 hours a week collecting firewood and water. Ninety-nine percent of the population lives on less than £1/$1.55 per day. Everyone relies on subsistence farming to survive. Girls miss school to help their mothers with the daily grind of collecting firewood and water, and to look after younger siblings while their mothers work in the fields. There are high rates of sexual and domestic violence and child neglect, and children often don’t eat until their mothers return at the end of the day. And thus the cycle of poverty has continued.
Above, Rutunga women go through an induction with the Aspire CEO.
We have taken our experience and learning from Aspire, our successful urban programme that has been running for five years, and adapted it for Rutunga’s rural setting. The two projects will share many approaches and resources, but will have a key difference in the vocational training offered. Aspire Rutunga will train the 450 beneficiaries in agriculture. They will learn to farm effectively and profitably, cultivating land that has been loaned free of charge by the Rwandan government. They will form a cooperative to support each other, pool their labour and learn about savings and loans. We will provide childcare for the women so that they can study and work with the knowledge that their children are safely cared for, and their older daughters are able to go to school.
Running concurrently will be training in literacy, numeracy, health and hygiene as well as psycho-social support to include counselling and testing for HIV/AIDS, and trauma counselling. And to benefit the whole community, we will be installing three water tanks to provide safe drinking water, and 50 heat-retaining stoves to reduce the consumption of firewood.
“The women are so keen to join Aspire Rutunga — there were more who came to try and get a place than we were able to register,” said Sophie McCann, Network for Africa’s executive director. “They were smiley, dignified and excited, and you could tell they were eager to hear more about the programme and how it will work.”
We are thrilled to have this opportunity to work with the women of Rutunga. Stay tuned for updates as the programme is rolled out.
To read more about Aspire Gisozi, based in urban Kigali, click here.