Francine NYAKALUSI, aged 18, is a single mother. Her daughter Ornella is 18 months old. Francine and Ornella live with Francine’s parents in Kigera village in the Mugote groupement on the island of Idjwi.

Since having her daughter, Francine has joined Kashofu, a parish based association of unwed young mothers. Kashofu is one of 15 youth associations... that together form the CAJDI youth federation.

Since she was a girl, Francine has been interested in woodwork, but growing up she was always made to feel that it was taboo for a girl to be a carpenter; in her community carpentry is seen as a career for men. When she heard from CADJI that a vocational training program in carpentry was being organised, and that girls were actively encouraged to join, Francine jumped at the chance to participate. From the theoretical and practical knowledge she received during the training, Francine has now learned to make chairs and other items of furniture. She looks forward to receiving a certificate from the training to show others what she has achieved, and with the start-up support from the project she plans to open a workshop in her village. Francine is confident that the money she will be able to earn from this work will ensure that she will be able to send her daughter to school when the time comes. In addition to the vital income that her new skills will bring in, Francine believes that, as a woman carpenter, she will attract the curiosity of other youth in her village and will help to dispel the idea that there are jobs that a girl or woman cannot do.

Francine is also an active member of Kashofu’s savings and credit group (Mutuelle de Solidarité or MUSO). The group that she is a part of, which consists of 10 members, received $200 from the project to support income generating activities. With the $20 that she received from this fund, Francine rented a small plot for growing pineapples. The first pineapples from this plot are in the process of being harvested. In addition, Francine bought two chickens, one of which has laid eggs that are about to hatch. With the income she has earned so far from these activities, Francine is finally able to pay for the basic needs of herself and her daughter (soap, medicine, clothes, etc), without have to depend on her parents or resort to begging from boys as she previously had to.