We sat down with Chantal and asked her some questions about the last 5 years she has spent with Ubushobozi. 1. How has your life improved since you began working with Ubushobozi? My life has improved and I am at a much better place. Now, I can afford to take care of all my needs with my income. 2. What do you think is the most important thing you have gained from being involved with Ubushobozi? I have learned how to sew bags, nice dresses as well as stylish shirts and skirts. 3. How many people does your salary from Ubushobozi help support? With my income I am able to support three people. 4. What is the impact Ubushobozi has had in your community? Ubushobozi has distributed lights to members of the community, blankets for children and hats that we made under Leigh’s guidance. 5. What do you do to help your community and those less fortunate than yourself? Depending on my means, I give shoes, clothes, food and hygienic products such as soap to the poorest members of my community. 6. What do you hope for the next 5 years? In five years, I hope to be able to start building houses and then rent them to make an income.
We sat down with Seraphine and asked her some questions about the last 5 years she has spent with Ubushobozi. 1. How has your life improved since you began working with Ubushobozi? My life has changed tremendously. Ubushobozi has been a source of stable income for me, while allowing me to work with girls and people from different backgrounds. I am able to teach and also manage a small project responding to the needs of different people which I truly enjoy doing. 2. What do you think is the most important thing you have gained from being involved with Ubushobozi? It is the security of knowing that no matter what I am going through in life, I can receive support from the project’s founders and supporters. I remember particularly one time when I was sick and could not get the right care in Musanze, and Ubushobozi founders paid for me to go to King Faisal hospital: one of the best hospitals in my country. There, I was able to receive the right care, a gesture that truly warmed my heart. In addition, I see the positive impact being a part of the organization has had on my family. Currently, one of my sisters is attending college only because Ubushobozi friends and supporters are paying for her education and I cannot even begin to describe the happiness this has brought to my family and I. 3. How many people does your salary from Ubushobozi help support? I am able to directly help six members of my family. 4. What is the impact Ubushobozi has had in your community? A lot of poor and vulnerable members in my community have been able to benefit from Ubushobozi, and truly admire this organization. Once, we received shoes and were able to distribute them to 50 members of our community that were extremely poor. Often as well, depending on funding available, we are asked to identify poor people in our respective neighborhoods so that the project can do something for them. I can attest that people here only say good things about the project 5. What do you do to help your community and those less fortunate than yourself? I am particularly engaged in helping teenage girls and young women in my community. In my neighborhood, I play a significant role in helping young girls who become pregnant while still living with their parents. I counsel the girls and also their parents who are extremely disappointed and sometimes ready to give up on their children. I also support the girls materially: buying maternity clothes for them and their babies when they are born. 6. What do you hope for the next 5 years? I am very happy working with Ubushobozi, and I hope that this project will still exist with the goal to promote women’s empowerment. I truly enjoy being part of such an organization because it has given meaning to my life, and the members have become my family. I am surrounded by people that I can count on, encouraged to constantly grow and to help people and this makes me happy.
We sat down with Aline and asked her some questions about the last 5 years she has spent with Ubushobozi. 1. How has your life improved since you began working with Ubushobozi? Before I joined Ubushobozi, the main challenge for my family and I was dealing with hunger and malnutrition. There were days when we completely ran out of food unable to afford lunch or dinner. However, ever since I joined Ubushobozi, I became employed and with my salary I am now able to buy food for my whole family without any issue. We do not worry anymore about being hungry and it is wonderful. 2. What do you think is the most important thing you have gained from being involved with Ubushobozi? I have learned to sew, how to use a computer for communication, to weave baskets and to speak English. My level is not yet good but I am able to have a conversation with foreign visitors who come to the project. I have truly acquired numerous skills here and I enjoy using all of them. 3. How many people does your salary from Ubushobozi help support? With my salary, I am able to support three people in my family. 4. What is the impact Ubushobozi has had in your community? Members of our community have received lights from Ubushobozi, and we have also been able to distribute hats and blankets to the most disadvantaged people in our community through the project. 5. What do you do to help your community and those less fortunate than yourself? I often give clothes to other girls who are less fortunate than me, or cook and feed kids in my neighborhood whose families are extremely poor. 6. What do you hope for the next 5 years? In five years, with sufficient savings, I hope to be able to start renting a small land for agriculture purposes. I will plant potatoes and beans to sell at the market. With the profit made from this venture, I hope to be able to help my brother start his own business as well.
We're ending 2013 in a big way! It's our 5 year anniversary! Happy Anniversary to us! Happy Birthday to us! We'll be sharing some thoughts and memories from our participants - including those who have been with us from the very beginning, so watch our Facebook page over the next two weeks. Help Ubushobozi grow another 5 years with a donation today! Thank you! Murakoze cyane! When we first went to Rwanda five years ago as volunteers, we met some amazing teenaged girls in a small village near Musanze. These girls were orphaned and unable to go to school due to poverty. They were eager to learn and wanted to better themselves so they could help care for their families. Two girls in particular caught our attention. Aline and Chantal quickly absorbed anything we taught them, from English to Math skills. The day we left their village, we promised to return to teach them sewing. As we think back on this day, it would be hard to imagine not keeping this promise. We returned with enough money to rent a small house in Musanze, purchase two sewing machines and some material. Ubushobozi was born. Aline and Chantal would walk to Musanze (about an hour walk from their village) each day and we would teach them how to sew bags, blouses, skirts and pants. We hired a local teacher to come each day to teach some basic English. A local woman who sewed at the market was also hired to teach them more sewing techniques. One of the most amazing things about starting this project is the people we have met along the way. In the five years Ubushobozi has been in existence, so many generous and caring people have put in time, money and an endless amount of energy. Because of this, we have been able to give many more girls and women in the Musanze area an opportunity to become self-sufficient. We can probably never imagine how this has changed their lives and how it has empowered them. They will never imagine how it has changed our lives, as they have taught us more than we ever thought possible. Happy Birthday Ubushobozi! Alan and Jeanne Siporin and Laura Boyea - Ubushobozi co-founders