On a day when it rained cats and dogs, it did little to dampen the spirits of thousands of enthusiastic residents who turned up to witness the rewarding of enterprising rural women, in Shingiro, Musanze District last week.
The Women’s Network for Rural Development, commonly known in French as Reseau Des Femmes and Foundation Nzambaza Mariya Veneranda organised the rewards to nurture and support enterprise development in rural areas.
The reward, launched in 2001 aims at recognising rural women who work hard and support social development, according to Presence Mukantabana, the Executive Secretary of Nzambaza Mariya Veneranda Foundation.
Five winners are awarded cows annually.
Mukantabana encouraged rural women to seek credit facilities to start income generating activities.
The award ceremony was organised as part of activities to mark Hunger Free campaign week 2011 championed by ActionAid Rwanda, where residents were also trained on how to ensure food security and adopt proper feeding practices.
“The reward is one of our vehicles through which to uplift rural women economically,” Mukantabana said.
“A woman can be uplifted economically through savings and credit schemes. Fighting poverty and food insecurity involves facilitating access to information on modern farming, and access to seeds.”
Now, for a long time, Specioza Ndabitondeye, one of the winners had a dream to eliminate poverty from her midst.
Through the reward, her dream had been achieved. “I have always wanted to have a cow and I am glad that it finally happened,” Ndabitondeye said.
“I am very grateful to the Women’s Network for Rural Development and Association Nzambaza Mariya Veneranda. This reward means we can develop,” she stated.
Ndabitondeye, a farmer, declined to consume anything she earned from farming and worked hard to improve her standard of living.
When the government introduced Sector Savings and Credit Schemes, (Umurenge Sacco), she resolved that although her income was small, she would save some of it with the sacco.
“With this, I thought I would be able to ask for credit to improve my farming activities and provide for my family,” she said.
A resident of Shingiro Sector, Ndabitondeye now has every reason to count herself among those who have kicked poverty out of their midst.
“As a widow, the money I fetch from Irish potatoes farming, I save part of it with the sacco and by the time the school term begins, I don’t fail to pay school fees and buy scholastic materials for my children. When a member saves a coin with the Sacco, it will be hard to waste that money in a bar,” she said.
She disclosed that she has since been able to buy mattresses for herself and her children.
Ndabitondeye worked as a judge in the Gacaca semi-traditional courts, which were instituted to handle Genocide cases. While there, she got the inspiration to rally other women to fight against poverty. She also served as a community health counsellor.
She appeals to village women to eat a balanced died to prevent nutritional diseases.