Life is beginning to settle into something of a routine now. Bronwen leaves the house around eight o’clock each morning (role reversal here!) to take the taxi bus over to Nyamirambo. There she organises the INN Club’s morning activities before going on to whoever she is visiting in the afternoon. I am spending my time between helping the Protestant Council, developing the street children programme and working with widows’ income generation groups.
The widows groups are colourful characters. The government encourages them to band together as co-operatives if they want to run a business and so each group has around ten individuals in it. What I have to admire is the determination and resilience of these women. Many of them have experienced indescribable horrors and are living on virtually no income from week to week. Those who have families find it very difficult to make ends meet. Yet they have a stoicism and humour that can only be wondered at. My stumbling attempts to get my tongue around Kiryarwanda is a source of constant merriment to them.
The other evening our interpreter didn’t turn up. None of the widows spoke any English although one had a little French. It made for a challenging half hour until another lady who did speak English turned up, but we made progress. Although English is the official second language in Rwanda, French is still very common.
There is no shortage of imagination among the widows for ways to earn some money. At the moment I am dealing with projects hoping to sell everything from wood to fruit juice. There is also a group who do some very tasty baking. Their problems, as ever in Rwanda revolve around money. I have learnt the stock phrase amafaranga pfite – there is no money! Finding the start up capital that is needed to buy equipment or pay the deposit on a shop rental is difficult. There are some sources though and part of my contribution is rooting them out.
Watch this space. If anyone would like a handmade dress in bright African colours made up, let me know!