Munazi village in Southern Rwanda is an extremely impoverished community – only 60% of its population have electricity and there is no access to clean water. In the midst of this, Tearfund’s International Citizen Service teams are working with the Rural Development Inter-Diocesan Service (RDIS) to encourage community action by empowering vulnerable young women’s groups.
Many of the single mothers growing up in Rwanda today become single mothers in their youth, often just 18-23 years of age. This demands independence from an early age but without any supporting resources or work of any kind. They are often abandoned by their partners and lack the benefit of a helping hand in child-raising. Some manage to live by cultivating others’ farms or going to the cities to search for jobs. But for most this often proves quite difficult as without adequate schooling jobs are in short supply.
Earlier in July 2013 a Tearfund ICS team identified the need to support these vulnerable young mothers. The following volunteer team, arriving in October, took up the challenge and started to train these single mothers and vulnerable girls, running sessions on HIV and other STIs and on good childcare. Topics covered children’s rights including the right to an education, protection and health care as well as safe sexual practice.
At the end of the programme, we met with the community to discuss the stigma associated with single mothers, who often are left feeling rejected by their relatives. We encouraged them to embrace these women and children as part of their community. At the end of the session, the single mothers were convinced that raising a child alone is indeed possible, especially now that members of their community were committed to supporting them.
The members of the vulnerable young women’s group pass on their praise and thanks to the team in this fantastic poem – truly reflecting breakthrough in their lives and a legacy of empowerment among the women of Munazi:
Thank you God for our beautiful country.
And thank you ICS team for your kindness.
We are thankful to RDIS for having received ICS team, as they have contributed so much to the change in our lives.
We are now hopeful.
We thank you so much for you love, we have learnt so much from your love and kindness.
We thank you for your zeal and encouragement.
We are no longer hopeless but have learnt how to change out mind-set and become women who can make good decisions.
Even our neighbours have remarked on the change and the improvement we have made since you have trained us.
The love we have learnt from you has been fruitful since it has enabled us to change our behaviour.
We thank you very much for the different lessons.
From what you have taught us, we have drawn this slogan:
– ‘I am a single mother, I can and I am able’
By the Munazi Vulnerable young women’s group