School is back in session in DRC

Last April I shared with you my interview with Jacky Buhoro about her work with children in the Democratic Republic of Congo. We had recently received a grant from the Charles Wentz Carter Memorial Foundation, which enabled SIA to pay school tuition for eight orphans and other vulnerable children in Jacky’s community last year. The children all passed their classes and are now eligible to continue on to the next level!

Lydia shows off her good grades

Lydia shows off her good grades

Girls

Nono Kulemba (5 years old)
Esther Akuzibwe (6 years)
Lydia Neema (10 years)
Rosette Kujirabwinja (12 years)

Boys

Mtumishi Mutesa (5 years)
Shukuru Mutesa (7 years)
Meshake Mwihangane (8 years)
Obedi Mutumishi (8 years)

When students are able to pay up front tuition for the whole year of school, it helps ensure their success. This provides a level of security so that they will be able to finish the year without having to drop out for lack of funds. Jacky reports, “They talk with joy to parents and Jacob Lipandasi. They have received the beautiful lesson in the classroom without fear because they were involved from beginning to the end of the course!”

Esther was able to attend school last year

Esther is one of the girls who was able to attend school last year

Educating children helps to raise the general level of education in the community and also gives the students the skills needed to work and thrive, developing a positive future for the community. Education is important, Jacky says, “to fight against rural depopulation and against children being forced into army groups in the east of DRC. Education helps us to fight against those using street children for drug trafficking.”

In addition to helping the students, this grant also benefits the teachers who often work without wages since they are not paid by the Congolese government. This grant has helped to improve the teachers’ small salaries.

As the new school year started last month, Jacky is desperate to help these children return to school again. She dreams of a project of raising dairy cows to pay for school fees, increase the salary of teachers, and therefore raise the quality of education available in rural DR Congo.

Obedi's hard work will allow him to advance to the 3rd grade next year.

Obedi's hard work will allow him to advance to the 3rd grade next year.

Businesses Thrive in Rwanda

I am always so impressed with how a $150 grant can not only give a family a chance to learn a skill or trade, but also improve their quality of life. In June, I received One-Year Reports from the ten Rwandan small businesses started with SIA Small Businesses Fund grants in 2008.

These reports detail the progress of each business group under the guidance of Francois Hamuli, all of which are continuing to thrive and reinvest to expand their operations. Hamuli regularly visits the groups throughout the year, checking in with them and encouraging them. At the end of one year, Hamuli helps the group members, many of whom do not know how to write, complete their final report to the SIA Office. Once I receive the reports in French, Beatrice Easter, a native French speaker, translates the reports to English.

Women with cassava flour

That is all a lot of backstory to share with you these very exciting reports from SIA Small Businesses in Rwanda! Here are some highlights:

Turwenya Ubukene: Cassava Business

“After two years of activity the group has continued to provide the cassava [staple food] for my community. The members are able to educate, feed and clothe their children.”

Women cooking cassavaTujimbere: Flour Retail Business

In two years of activity the group is coming to share blessings with certain orphans. This month they visited two families that take care of the orphans.

fuel sales

Ibiza: Retail Fuel Business

Two members of this group came to buy everyone a little part of a field for a communal garden and two goats. What a testimony to the village! Transportation of the product to market is aided by motorized canoes.

woman has fresh fish for sale

Witonde: Sewing Clothes

The activities of this group are running. They bought two sewing machines. They nourish their families. Now members of my community can easily find clothes. It is the joy that reigns.

A B’mana: Fresh Fish Sales

Members of this group are happy to see that their children are healthy because they can eat fresh fish, which was reserved only for the rich before.

Poultry Project Update

At the June Spirit in Action meeting, the Board of Directors approved a grant for $1,066 for Common Ground Program to start a poultry farm. Common Ground Program, led by Joshua Machinga, aims to reduce poverty and bring stability to their village in western Kenya. They have sustainable garden projects and an elementary school with over 350 students.

The Poultry Project that SIA has supported, with your contributions, will create a sustainable source of income for the group through the sale of chicken egg and meat. The school children are learning about how to care for chickens, giving them practical, transferable skills. The children also benefit from the addition of protein to their diets.

I am so impressed with how much the group has been able to accomplish in a relatively short time and the amount of community support they have for all their projects.

Since receiving the funds in July, the group has already built a poultry house next to their garden, which means that the birds can eat some of the greens and the chicken manure from the house can be used to fertilize the garden. A brooder room to was also built to provide warmth for day-old chicks. The group ordered chicks from Nairobi and the price was lower than they estimated so they were able to order 250 chicks instead of 200 for the same cost.

Inside the newly built poultry house.

The meat and eggs will be sold at the local market and the income from the project will be used for expanding the program’s activities and for school fees for orphans.

Joshua Machinga describes the commroderie he already sees in the group, “It serves as a social group wherepeople meet and share their experiences and problems therefore reduce their psychological burden. A problem shared is a problem half solved.”

It is encouraging to work with a group that is doing so much good in their community. Common Ground is well-led and effective at empowering their members and it is a pleasure to support their efforts!

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