A total of 42 teen mothers last week completed a four-month intensive training in vocational skills.
The teen mothers, all of them from Musanze District, Northern Province, acquired the training under the Miss Sharifa Umuhoza initiative. The initiative was started by former 2016 Miss Rwanda contestant, Sharifa Umuhoza, who emerged the 4th runner-up, as well as miss popularity, to help vulnerable girls.
According to beneficiaries, the skills and knowledge they acquired will help them create jobs to generate resources to raise their babies.
“I am delighted to have completed this training, I had lost hope and I always asked myself how my future with my little kid will play out. But now I am optimistic that my future will be bright because with the skills I have been equipped with, I can now start my own project,” said Clementine Imananikwigize, 23, who has a two-year old boy.
“I particularly followed the handcrafts training. So I know how to make different products using silk and the needle. I am confident that my life is going to change positively,” she added.
Umuhoza founded the ‘Umuhoza Foundation’ to equip girls who dropped out from school due to early unwanted pregnancies with hands-on skills.
“The idea came after finding out that the number of girls who get early pregnancies is increasing. I joined the Miss Rwanda competition so that I can raise my voice to support these girls,” she said.
The forum was also created to tackle the youth unemployment, according to Umuhoza, who said it was officially launched in June 2016 with 42 active beneficiaries who undertook sewing and other handcrafts skills.
Some of the products showcased at the graduation ceremony of the beneficiaries included different types of hand-bags, ornaments, small pointed baskets (Uduseke), and paper-made necklaces, among others.
“We want to promote Made-in-Rwanda products. We do our things manually and reflect the Rwandan culture. These products are not only made in Rwanda but are also made by Rwandan females,” Umuhoza said.
Statistics from Musanze District show that at least about 720 teens dropped out of school as a result of teenage pregnancies in the first nine months of 2015.
Call for a cooperative
Marie Claire Uwamariya, the vice mayor in charge of social affairs in Musanze District, hailed Umuhoza’s initiative, stressing that it is helping the district to spread Made-in-Rwanda campaign among the locals.
Uwamariya urged graduates to form a cooperative so that the district can support them get materials and channel any other support to them easily.
“I promised them the district’s support so that their cooperative gets accreditation. We will intervene so that their cooperative gets the right status,” she said.
According to Umuhoza, the second group of trainees will start training in sewing and handcrafts at the end of February. She called for more support from well-wishers as her foundation still faces a finance challenges.