In the press
Des Rwandaises forment une communauté d'intérêts - English Summary
05 June 2000
Bonn, Germany: In Rwanda, a tiny, strife-torn East African country, national UNV field workers are helping widows and girl orphans raise an income in the rural areas around Umutara, Kibungo, Kigali Rural, Butare and Gitarama. Auréa Gasengayire, Drocelle Mukazayire and Hélène Muragijemariya, all Rwandans, are three of the UN Volunteer field workers taking part in a UNV programme targeting the needs of some 17,000 people. Among these are 7,200 widows and 500 orphans who survived the country's 1994 genocide.
In the district of Gitarama, a prefecture of 853,000 people about 50 kilometres from the capital Kigali, the UN Volunteers have since 1997 helped form 13 groups promoting microprojects and revitalizing activities for the development of 10 associations.
Women and orphan teenager girls learn handicrafts, work in mushroom beds, produce cane sugar or raise pigs.
Activities of development and microprojects implemented in the area are divided among 23 associations that have been pooled into a collective group called HUMARA. Through financial contributions of its members, the HUMARA group is able to maintain a fund to finance various activities developed by the associations to provide women with an income and help them to improve their situation and the well-being of their families. UNV Auréa gives training in sewing to 18 girl orphans and plans to start a pastry-making course for 20 additional trainees. Drocelle visits four of the 23 associations every day, helping members to keep accounting records to better manage their financial situation.
Hélène strengthens contacts with UNV's partners supporting the development of the region. She provides training to nine associations receiving financial support of the Trickle Up programme, which helps set up small businesses. Within HUMARA, women feel more secure while receiving incomes allowing them to save for educational, medical and other family needs. One mother says: "I can easily deal with family problems. The group helps me as well as all of us to solve difficulties in accordance with the commitments made by the associations and which are included in HUMARA in-house regulations. I no longer dread to pay the school fees or the children's medical expenses."
Women express gratitude to the UNV field workers who helped them recover their self-confidence at work and in community life. Drocelle, Auréa and Hélène, who provide them with the means for improving their economic and social position, appreciate working with individuals and families who were tragically impoverished by the civil war. "Our UNV assignment gave us the opportunity to approach the poorest to help them shake off the lethargy which drove them to accept a tragic situation as a dictate of fate," explains one of the UN Volunteers.
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