The Mother/Child Development Project is in the city of Kigali, which makes it very different from our rural projects. It has many different programs within it.
There is the Daycare program, which serves the pre-school age children and babies of women who take part in the training programs. A mother knows that her children are safe and fed two meals, while she does her training or goes to work.
The training programs are in Tailoring, Hairdressing and Manicuring, and Bakery Skills. After graduating from a program, women either find employment at a salon or shop in Kigali or join together in groups to take a loan to open their own business.
There is a Revolving Fund which is a microloan fund that allows women both in the training programs and also those who are just member of the fund to take small loans that help her begin, grow and/or improve her business.
There is a Direct Support Fund, which is financial aid for women who have been identified as having exceptional circumstances that make them very vulnerable and qualifying them to receive monthly funds that are not a loan.
We visited several women in their homes today and also we visited the Family Pride Bakery and outlets, which is a for profit bakery that we opened to use the income to support the daycare program, as well employ women who graduate from the Bakery program. Once the business becomes more established, it will also support the Revolving Fund with seed money. Of course we sampled the goods and they were as delicious as they looked!
We visited the Ebinezelli Salon, started by a group of 6 graduates. The salon has only been open for two months and is already seeing an increasing number of clients each week.
Some of the success stories we heard:
Justine has been a member since 2013. She was a street vendor, selling vegetables and was making about 50 cents a day. She did the Hairdressing Training and was the top student, so they made her a trainer. She is now making 3-4.00 per day and is able to pay rent, two meals a day for her and her child, and health insurance. She hopes to be able to buy her own home in the future.
Marie Claire works in the Family Pride Bakery and is, for the first time ever, able to live in her own place with her daughter. Her house is tiny, only fitting one small bed for the two of them and has no kitchen or toilet (she uses her neighbor’s house for that), yet she has spoken to me two years in a row of her feeling of freedom and joy. She also said that her dream has been realized, because her daughter is able to go to school and, this little girl is recognized by everyone as being extremely smart.
There are many more and once back in the US, I will start posting videos and more photos of these stories.