- Kigali, Rwanda
In 2014, Pilot Light partnered with the Mother and Child Development Center (MCDC) in Kigali, Rwanda to further develop the project formerly known as the Market Cooperative. The project now aims to go beyond helping these urban women who work in the market to increase their income. It empowers women socially, economically and literally through skills development and providing early childhood development to the vulnerable children through childcare at the MCDC Center.
For the Mothers of Kigali, working in the market poses many problems. Unable to both work and care for her children, a mother must either bring her young children with her, (where they are often left running around amongst strangers or sitting without any stimulation all day long) or leave them at home with a neighbor or sibling that may not be old enough to look after them properly. They are often abused or neglected by other adults when left alone. This means the older girls will be kept out of school to care for younger siblings and the younger children with no stimulative activities will not develop as they should. Women with children are forced to leave work early, also lessening their income. Many market vendors are not lucky enough to be able to get the permits needed to work within the confines of the actual marketplace and are forced to make their sales outside of the walls illegally. They are often arrested for doing this, but they have no other options for earning income.
Options and opportunity. For mothers whose only option is working in the markets of Kigali, providing for their family also meant leaving their youngest children in dangerous and often abusive situations. In 2014, Pilot Light partnered with the Mother & Child Development Center to form a business development program and career training and childcare for these women.
Training and support. During the five month course Women are trained in the careers of either catering or hairdressing and nails. While they are being trained their younger children receive childcare. Good healthcare and parenting skills are learned, and both the women and children are provided with counseling on HIV/AIDS, genocide trauma, and to deal with any issues of domestic abuse and sexual abuse.
Building a community of empowered women means women helping women. As the groups graduate and new groups come in, the graduates of the MCDC help train the new women as their way of giving back. A revolving fund provides seed capital for consecutive graduates. In June 2015, the MCDC Bakery celebrated its launch. Here woman will receive training in catering, and profits from the baked goods will ensure sustainability of the project. In the future more diverse career trainings will be offered and services will be expanded to support the women as they transition into their new careers.
Options and Opportunity. Women can access a better life for themselves and their families.
Community Stature/ Job. Skills-shared learning experiences not only empower individual prospects but improve gender equality as a whole.
Healthy Families begin in early childhood. Healthcare education provides lifelong practices that dramatically improve outcomes.
Childcare & Education. With younger children safely cared for, older children can stay in school.
Economic Empowerment. This builds self-reliance and the ability to raise families free of domestic violence.