Rwamagana widows

The Rwamagana widows

We have moved eastwards to Rwamagana, an hour's bus ride form Kigali.

Last year we asked the Restoration church here to find widows from the area who had no income. Through the church we helped six women to start up in business. Two began selling shoes in the local markets. Two more set up together burning music and films onto CDs and DVDs. One sells potatoes and another began to hire marquees for weddings which big business in Rwanda.

It is now twelve months since we first met the women and have been visiting them at their market stalls during this week. All are still working, which is good news. Even better news is that several of the women have been able to reinvest the profits they have made. One lady has bought a cow and another, two pigs. The woman hiring wedding marquees has expanded into the local market selling produce.

In Rwanda, owning a cow is a big deal. At RWF200,000, four hooves and an udder cost nine months wages. They are not low-maintenance either and will eat whatever grass is around, which at this time of year is not much. But there will be milk and if sold at the right time a cow will not depreciate in value. There is also the possibility of a calf.

Pigs are a similar investment. They are Africa's answer to the Dyson and will eat anything thrown in front of them. They will grow, reproduce and be sold for bacon.

The widows have been working for a year now, and on this visit we are encouraging them to start recycling some of their earnings into a common pot that can be used by the group. The hope is that they will be able to grow their businesses or allow others to come into the circle. There is a lot of talking to do before this gets off the ground but the women seem open to what we have discussed so far.

Between them, our widows have 27 children. A while back these families had no regular income. It is encouraging to find that having planted a seed, something appears to be growing.