In the press
Un Pont jeté sur l'Avenir - English Summary
08 September 1998
Bonn, Germany: One of Rwanda's main priorities - and also one of its great challenges - is the reinsertion of some two million refugees and displaced persons (most of them widows and orphans) into the country's socio-economic life. To aid in this delicate and crucial process, 13 UNV field workers are working since early 1997 in 5 Rwandan prefectures. They are working in mixed teams (4 international and, for the first time in Rwanda, 9 national UNVs), helping the rural population engage in the joint development of income-generating activities. These UNVs assist the communities in organising themselves in local associations (more than 390 have been formed) and in identifying small business opportunities which require limited or no funding; and they provide the people with relevant training and support in the set-up and management of sustainable micro-projects in the areas of rural development (agriculture, bee-keeping, fishery), cottage industry (mat weaving, soap and candle making) and housing. Some of these activities, in the past traditionally considered men's responsibility, are now conducted by women. The women of Rwanda not only outnumber men, but have found themselves in the situation of being the sole heads of the family, and having to care not only for their own children, but in some cases for abandoned orphans as well. UNV hopes that intensive literacy programmes will contribute substantially to the empowerment and self-reliance of these Rwandan woman. It is also hoped that the use of National UNVs and the efforts in bringing different ethnic groups to work together can serve to promote a lasting national reconciliation, so that the future, as expressed by National UNV Field Worker Hélène Muragizemarya, may be a "drawbridge leading into a better world".
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