Rwanda, Africa

RWA02 - Young Women's Scholarship Programme: Partnership Reports

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Report Date: August 25, 2022

Report from BHW Rwanda Partnership Facilitator Following Visit 27th July - 1 August

“I could only feed my family after having sex with a man.” So poor, so alone, so desperate. 

It would be easy to be critical, but what would you do if you had been raped several times as a 14-year-old by the husband of the aunt you lived with and when you became pregnant, she threw you out of the house? Where would you go? Where would you sleep? Who would you hang out with? How could you go to school? 

Merinda found herself on the streets with a baby and not long after the baby was born, she was pregnant again. That baby died, but not the next one and here she is at 18 with two mouths to feed, no education, no family, nowhere to live. 

I heard this story and several like it one morning as a spent a couple of hours listening to the broken dreams of 15 young women. There was another girl in the group, fidgeting and uncomfortable and 8 months pregnant. She wept as she told how she had been living on the streets and had many sexual encounters. She has no idea who the father is. Five months ago, someone gave her and her mother a room for two months, but the two months are up and she is back on the streets wondering what the next few weeks looks like and if she and her baby will even be alive. 

You just want to take them and hold them, but… there are many reasons why that’s not a good idea! But someone has to do something. And there is, but for them, it just can’t happen quickly enough for that young woman. 

The team at Youth Renewed are helping as they can but it is not enough in their minds, and it cannot happen quickly enough. They don’t just have 15 girls like this, they have a hundred and there are hundreds more. But it is complicated, you cannot just give them money because they will be asking for more every month. It is not that simple to train them, many cannot read or write. They cannot attend a course because they have a 3-, 6- or 9-month-old baby and who is going to look after them while mum is at class. 

Youth Renewed's dream is to have a home to which the mums can come for emergency help, some sense of family, and to be safe and able to be mentored. That would not be an easy transition for most of them as they have become feral and impossible to control. It is a survival instinct. Something like that may happen in the future, but right now it is about getting as many girls as they can into some sort of training. 

The main activity of Youth Renewed is the football and there are around 300 young people involved in this. George is a football fanatic and the driver of this. It is not something BHW is currently involved in but has potential down the track. It was while running this ministry that George became aware of the great need amongst the girls, some of whom are football groupies. 


Recent Events

new skillsVisit

While in Kigali I was able to do several things:

1) Visit with a group of 15 girls and talk about life for them. Some of these are girls being helped right now, some have been helped in the past by George’s family, and some were waiting to come into the programme. The girls are very poor and uneducated. Only one had finished secondary school and some could barely read. They were all pregnant for the first time or mothers, one with four kids, a couple with three and down to one. Only one was “married,” meaning with the guy she has had two children with. 

2) Visit a training place where Claudine is learning to become a tailor (photo above). It was an impressive school established by a Christian woman as a response to the genocide and new dreamsthe light of many young girls. Its name is “Speak, I’m listening Initiative.” There are 65 girls training to do beauty, hair and sewing. Claudine is doing well and is a quick learner. She had been unwell, as had her baby, so she missed class from time to time. She measured me up for shirt and made it for me. I was presented with it before I left. It was a little tight but OK. 

3) Visit a hair-dressing school where four of the girls are training. We met the owner and saw how the programme operated. The dream for the girls is to start their own salon and train others, that’s how the best money is made. If a girl can get one client per day it is enough to live, but not thrive. 

great group4) I spent an evening with the board members who live in Rwanda. This is George and Jemima, sister Mary, sister Alice, Fred, and Damasenge. Each has a portfolio, some of which are not in operation yet. They have plans but no resources. There are a couple of expatriates on the board as well who used to live in Rwanda but who are unlikely to ever come back. One of them sends random gifts from time to time, mainly for the football ministry.  


BHW Financial Assistance

There is currently funding in place to assist 17 girls. Initially seven have been selected and others are in the process of being identified. They are in two different locations. The initial seven are:

- Umuhoza Claudine (Hairdressing)
- Mutesi Sylvia (Hairdressing)
- Uwiduhaye Liliane (Hairdressing)
- Nirere Claudine (Tailoring)
- Isimbi Mukorakeye (Hairdressing)
- Yakaragiye Julienne (Hairdressing)
- Uwase Samuella(Hairdressing)

The stories of three of the girls are in the previous report from June 2022.  



George and Jemima are the key people but one of George’s sisters, Mary, is also a key. She’s a pastor at a large church and has some time available to engage with the girls. She’s a larger-than- life personality and the mamma bear. George is the motivator but must be careful around the women. Jemima is the administrator and has a passion to see this working well. However, she is a mother of four and works full-time so is not able to be as involved as she would like to be. 

George is out of the country quite a bit as he has been appointed as a regional director for Teens for Christ. He travels to Dar es Salaam at least 3 or 4 times a year and to the USA annually. It’s a huge organisation. Every week he meets online with several other leaders from around Southern Africa. 

There is a board with non-family members as well. 


Ideas for the Future

BHW has been funding this for a few months, the first funds were sent in February 2022, so it is early days. The amount we send should be able to help about 15–17 young people. Several have been selected and I met some of them. There are others in the process of being selected but there are many more. 

There are two groups from which selections are made, one in Kigali and another about three hours from Kigali. 

In talking with the team, I think there are two things we could do:

1) One amount of funds has been sent and another is due soon. The starting amount is about right, and they are adding more students as we speak. By the end of the year the full complement will be in training. I think it would be good both next year and the following year to boost the amount. At that stage we could then review the whole ministry and make a new plan based on the outcomes they are achieving. 

2) They would like to commence another project to run alongside the training programme. This would be a “Facilitation Fund” to be used to assist the women who finish training to establish an enterprise or get the tools required to do that. Only those who are doing very well or showing initiative would qualify. 

Several girls could immediately benefit from something like this. There are some who have already completed training prior to our involvement. I met some of them and the difference between them and those who had not started or finished training was obvious. 

Some examples are:

a) SACCO – several girls who they have trained in the other centre have clubbed together on their own initiative and formed a SACCO (co-op in our terms) and are doing really well. This type of initiative could be encouraged and boosted from the Facilitation Fund. 

b) Sewing machines and tools – the girls who graduate have skills but nothing with which to ply their trade. From the Facilitation Fund they could get sewing machines, hairdressing tools etc with which to start their little enterprises. If they can’t get the gear they need within a short time they lose their skills and their motivation.

c) Girls sewing co-op – some of the girls in Kigali want to start a little sewing business and others a hairdressing salon and the fund could be used to help them set up, get some gear, pay for rent for a couple of months etc.

d) Nursery costs – the single biggest issue is that the girls' training is somewhat compromised because they have no-one to look after the children while they are training. The fund could help by assisting them to send their child to day-care or set up one of the girls to run a day care and pay her to look after a few of the children. They are looking into this. 



These are exceptional people with great experience and capacity. They are simply outstanding and can be totally trusted. In his role with Young Life George travels East Africa and is exposed to many issues and opportunities. He is an energiser bunny and irrepressible. But he is practical at the same time and with his family really does care for the young people.