On a warm Monday morning, we traveled to the mountainous Rulindo district, in the Northern part of Rwanda. We went to visit Janet, a member of a Youth Empowerment Cooperative supported by World Vision Rwanda (WVR). Janet greeted us with a big smile on her face and welcomed us into the house where the cooperative was working. There, she began to share her transformation story while hand weaving a basket.
Janet is married with one child. She comes from a very poor family and is the eldest of eight children. Due to limited resources, she dropped out of school after Primary 3, which made her life even more challenging. At the age of 15, she took on the responsibility of caring for her siblings by working on a farm, but the income was very little and insufficient. Janet's days were filled with backbreaking labor, digging for meager earnings, as her dreams faded away. She could hardly meet her needs, and those of her dependents.
However, during this difficult time, Janet's neighbors taught her art crafting. At the age of 20, she began working in this field, but it still did not provide enough income to meet her needs, and to care for her siblings. Janet's situation worsened when she married an alcoholic and distant husband.
She says; “Because I was not contributing to our household development, my husband despised me. As a home in lack is not a happy one, he found a reason to go out drinking in search of solace and companionship. I felt lonely and wallowed in low self-esteem.” S
Fortunately, Janet joined a group of young people undertaking several activities such as art designing and that's where WVR stepped in to offer invaluable support.
With the assistance from WVR, Janet was able to fully harness her exceptional talent and skills and had the opportunity to teach art crafting to others. She now makes an average of 45 handicrafts per month and from which she earns $100.
Janet says; "Before, I did not think I was worth anything nor did I think I could add value to someone but thanks to WVR's intervention, I have regained my self-esteem."
Today, Janet provides spaces for other young people in her community to be trained. She trains others to make various handicrafts such as baskets, tablemats and house décor among others. She is a role model to other young people in her home area.
Janet has had opportunities to share her story during exhibitions and this has boosted her confidence even more.
She added, "I feel fearless, powerful, and very valuable to myself, my family, my community, and beyond!”
In addition to that, Janet is now able to provide a quality of life for her child and siblings.
Janet also started contributing financially to her household, and this motivated and inspired him to change his ways and also participate in the socio-economic welfare of the family. Together, they are prospering as a family, thanks to Janet's perseverance and determination. Through the income they get, they have managed to buy a cow and a piece of land for farming.
"What makes me happy and proud is that through this cooperative, young people have discovered their potential but most importantly, their worth!" Illumine, the leader of the Cooperative also added.
Today, Janet no longer feels the fear that once paralyzed her. She is deeply grateful to WVR for how far she has come.
By Chloe Ineza & Mary Umutoni