Jubilations as cooperatives are given Fresian cows
Two heads are usually better than one. Vulnerable women unite together to forge a better future.
Often when rural women are oppressed by their husbands and hit by the biting pangs of poverty they see little hope. But when they join efforts and start supporting each other and working together, great things become possible.
It is for this very reason that the farmers in Gitesi sector, Karongi district, Northern Province formed a now popular Cooperative “Tuzamure gaseke”. This farmers’ cooperative of 62 members, the majority of whom are women (55 women and 7 men), began its activities in February 2008.
Most of these women are single mothers, living with their children. Much of the group is composed of genocide widows, ex-military officers’ widows and single mothers. They were alone, poor and couldn´t afford to buy clothes for themselves and for their children. They felt that they needed to join efforts in order to support each other and fight poverty together.
Their first activity was the production of traditional baskets, and at the same time each member tried to give a contribution of Rwf200 per week in order to help each other to buy clothes. They also contributed Rwf500 each week as a way of pooling resources to begin buying mattresses for the women.
ActionAid has worked with the cooperative since 2009, and has helped them buy a maize-grinding machine and to construct an Early Childhood Development (ECD) centre for their children. This was a very important accomplishment for the women, because they will now be able to leave their children at school as they go to the fields to work.
These women have already seen a big difference between their previous lives and their current experience.
We can now sleep on mattresses and work together, and feel aware of how to look forward and build a better future.
Anyone is welcome to join the cooperative, with a membership fee of RwF1,500, and they hope to keep expanding to further support each other and make improvements for their own families and the wider community.