KIREHE – A new savings product, known as savings and internal lending communities (SILC), has transformed rural livelihoods in the district of Kirehe through boosting income generating activities.
Jean Népo Nyirinkwaya, a resident of Gahara sector in Kirehe district says that the product whose income generation capabilities has also promoted unity and reconciliation among communities in the area has come in handy in boosting the resident’s savings culture.
The project was initiated to enhance rapid development among local communities. It is supported by Christian Relief Services Rwanda (CRS) in collaboration with USAID and other private donors.
Narrating his story as a genocide prisoner for about thirteen years, Nyirinkwaya, believes the product has transformed his life for the better. “I was arrested in 1995 and locked up for genocide related cases.
I spent 13 years in Rwamagana prison. I found it difficult to be reintegrated into my society after I was freed by the government due to the guilt I felt. I felt disliked and the guilt kept me isolated in the society for along time,” narrates Nyirinkwaya.
He however says that after he was reintegrated in the society, life changed triumphantly as he was advised to join the savings society which used the new product.
“I was advised to join Twisungane, one of the 12 SILC groups in Gahara sector. The group members welcomed me, I got integrated and since then, my economic and social status has elatedly changed,” he explained.
Nyirinkwaya, who joined SILC in May 2008 says that in addition to freedom and reconciliation he regained, the savings product has helped him to buy two goats and iron sheets in which he has constructed a three roomed house after coming back from jail.
Anathalie Mukankusi a project officer with SILC said that their approach is also focused into other related activities meant to promote micro-finance for orphans and vulnerable people as well as those living with HIV and AIDS.
She added that CRS provides training to partners and integrated groups in financial literacy and management in areas such as self audit and provision of the necessary financial toolkits to the groups.
Celebrating 2009 achievements
At Rusumo parish last week, members of the savings groups gathered to celebrate their achievements.
The parish priest, Dieudonné Uwimana, advised residents to join hands against poverty through joining cooperatives like Savings and Internal Lending Communities (SILC), in order to attain improved livelihoods in their respective households.
Addressing Mahama sector residents and members of new savings product community at a function that aimed at celebrating the achievements accomplished this year, Uwimana thanked Catholic Relief Services for building the capacity of orphans and vulnerable communities in Kibungo Dioceses through its new savings product.
“This is a great approach that brings together needy residents to embrace the savings culture for the purposes of working together to fight against poverty.” he said.
The function that was opened by a one hour church service at Rusumo parish and brought together over 360 members from 12 SILC groups in Mahama sector, the priest promised members that the Catholic Church through its network of dioceses, parishes and small Christian committees at the community level will continue working hand in hand with related organs to ensure that local communities are sensitized to unite and fight against poverty.
Benefits accumulated from the project
Vanson Ngarambe, a CARITAS Rwanda official in charge of supervising SILC activities in Kibungo dioceses said that out of 5, 600 members from the 200 registered in CRS supported SILC groups in Kibungo dioceses over 5,000 members have managed to buy a goat each as a benefit.
He added that out of this number, five other members of SILC have managed to buy heifers.
He continued that each SILC group members meet at least once a week to contribute funds for a revolving scheme in which members are offered loans to enable them finance their business activities.
He added that the beneficiaries, after a given period of time, return the borrowed money with a 10% interest which is kept and shared by all members at the end of the cycle.
During the ceremony, members from 12 SILC groups in Mahara sector also shared Rwf 6,130, 400 as savings and profit generated in 2009 was shared out in which each member received Rwf 20,250.