Marie Rose has always been a courageous woman who never gave up despite all the difficulties she went through. Her husband got imprisoned and she had to cover all her family ‘expenses : School fees, health insurance fees, nutrition and many more. With the support she received from FXBVillage SKOL program, she was able to develop a successful income generating activity of selling fruits and vegetables, her children returned to school, she joined a savings groups and created a kitchen garden that provided her with legumes. She affirms that she could earn $5 and could regularly save before COVID-19 crisis. It is with apparent happiness and pride that she narrates her story.
“I live in Gasharu cell, Nyamirambo Sector, the district of Nyarugenge of Kigali city. I am a beneficiary of the FXBVillage SKOL poverty alleviation program, which is now in its final year of implementation. I want to share with you my story of how the FXB SKOL program helped me to cope with the COVID-19 and take care of my family.”
The pandemic that emerged in China was of little concern to us. Most people in Rwanda did not know anything about this disease. After spreading to Europe and other countries around the world, the rumor was that it did not affect Africans, we were wrong. From the first case in Rwanda, everything went very fast. We were quarantined, and only essential services were permitted while most of the businesses were not permitted to operate. I am very proud to be part of the FXB -SKOL family. It is true that we went through a very difficult time during this COVID-19 crisis, but FXB had prepared us enough. In three years, I have received a lot of training that allowed me to cope with this situation.
In the first year, I received training in financial literacy, project management and was provided a start-up capital that allowed me to start an income generating activity of selling fruits and vegetables. We have also been trained and helped to grow a vegetable garden where I grow carrots, lamb’s lettuce, cabbage, beets and much more. These vegetables are primarily intended to improve our own diet. I usually sell the surplus to the market, which allows me to increase my income. However, during the crisis I shared them with my neighbors who were starving.
FXB has taught us to adopt good hygiene habits. We built latrines, showers and a hand-washing station in front of our house. Everybody adopted the habit of regularly wash hands with soap. The government is sensitizing people to adopt good hygiene behaviors to protect themselves from coronavirus, whereas it is already part of our daily life.
I understood the importance of saving and planning. I am part of a Savings and Credit Group. The group members convenes every week and contribute an agreed amount, based on everyone’s ability, that serve as personal savings and are used to provide small loans to the group members. It is also an opportunity to share life experiences and learn from each other. Our group is composed of 28 people and we were able to save $1,200 shortly before the COVID-19 crisis. This is already our second cycle. A cycle lasts 12 months and, at the end, we share the profits that we use to expand our businesses or for other personal projects. For this time, our savings have helped us to cope with this challenging situation.
Even though we are going through difficult times, my family did not suffer too much compared to my neighbor’s thanks to my income-generating activity and my savings. Additionally, my kitchen garden together with all the direct and indirect support I benefited from this program backed me during these hard times. The FXB staff remained in regular contact with us remotely via phone and it motivated me. During these tough times, we have really understood the importance of the good lessons we benefited from FXB-SKOL program. My business and my savings have been my life jacket during moments of turbulence.
“I thank SKOL and FXB for all the support.”
Gratefully relates Marie Rose