Twenty-four years after the genocide, Faith in Action is helping Rwandans achieve its vision for economic development and women’s empowerment. Leaders are modeling a democratic approach that claims space for ordinary people to name their priorities, organize their communities, and hold government officials accountable. Our vision for the next five years is to establish organizing efforts across Rwanda and birthing new efforts in East Africa.
Local organizing and development continues to be our priority. Last year, for example, the Nyange women completed construction of a kiln and molding shed, making it possible to produce high-quality roofing tiles. This year, they will complete the roadside market to attract customers. ”Organizing has helped us get out of poverty, ignorance, and fear. We used to grow crops, but could not feed our kids. Many of us did not have a home. Because of PICO training, we learned how to make bricks and tiles. Now, we have a cooperative. With our new kiln we can make really good tiles to sell.” —Mediatrice, Nyange Women’s Cooperative President.
Inspired by organizing and entrepreneurship training this summer, more than 100 Kigali women from the cooperative called Amasangiramugisha (Those Who Share Blessings) have organized into 8 groups to start their small businesses, buying and selling fruits, vegetables, and crafts.
All the PICO Rwanda leadership teams are developing organizing plans to secure the partners needed to implement their community development agendas. In Nyamata, leaders are building a community center that they can rent. In Mumeya, leaders are building schools and marketing their welding business, which makes and installs windows. In Rusumo, leaders are making plans to bring water to their health clinic, which will soon be community owned.
To achieve their expansion goals, grassroots leaders began last year training others—community, government, and church leaders. The results have been amazing. “I have never ever experienced such training where ordinary people mingle with the Mayor in the training led by ordinary persons. Back in my district, I see the Mayor leading meetings with high-ranking officials and business men … also, it’s my first time to see a Catholic priest working together with a Protestant pastor,” says a Nyamata leader. In 2019, the PICO Rwanda training program will conduct three country-wide leadership development sessions. We hope to have a presence in all nine districts in Rwanda next year.
“This project has changed my life because ignorance is a disease … Now, we are happy and work together. We are able to build houses … people who do not live in the cooperative come to buy tiles from us and they live in better houses, too. We have done a lot for this community. It has been great.” – Mukamuganga Epiphanie