Several years ago, when Gaudence’s father died and her mother was sent to jail, Gaudence was forced to drop out of school to look after her younger brother.
“I had to become the head of the household at a young age because I am the eldest child. I had to drop out of school to be able to take care of my brother. In the past, it was hard for me to get money to meet basic needs. Now, I am earning money from this business. I can earn between Rwf 4,000-6,000 (€3-€5) per day depending on the day,” said Gaudence.
Gaudence is one of the 60 people, predominantly teen mothers, who completed a vocational training programme at Cyanika TVET school. Their training was sponsored by a Major Donor (private donor) through Trócaire and Duterimbere ONG. Following the training, the programme participants got start-up tool kits and are now applying the knowledge from the vocational training.
“I got the shoe making skills at Cyanika TVET School. Trócaire and Duterimbere ONG paid my school fees and provided me with school materials. After we had completed the vocational training, they also gave us the start-up tool kits with which we launched a shoe making and repair business,” Guadence added.
Trócaire’s Country Director in Rwanda, Marleen Masclee, said the programme provides a small contribution to the huge issue of teen pregnancies in Rwanda.
“Trócaire is working with its partners such as Duterimbere ONG, and we are in close collaboration with the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, the Gender Monitoring Office but also with district authorities and local authorities in the communities that we work.
“Through all those stakeholders, we have been informed about the challenges that teen mothers are facing. There are so many young girls that have become pregnant, facing serious consequences of having to drop out of school, and not being able to stay with their families. They have to sometimes leave the house and try to fend for themselves. Together with the local authorities we have come up with this project so that we can provide a small contribution to solve this large problem,” Marleen said.
Following their training, the people in the programme set up a loan and savings group to work together to further improve their living conditions.
Alphonsine Mukarugendo is one of the founding members of the group and says the group are already seeing the benefits of working together.