A meeting place, football pitch, community and business, formed and maintained by genocide orphans who are living a better life together.
The Togetherness story was only possible because of changemaker and African Road partner, Pastor Steven. Having grown up as an orphan himself, he was compelled to take in orphaned children after the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Overwhelmed by the need he created child-headed households, with older boys responsible for younger boys and older girls responsible for younger girls.
Alongside this came football (soccer), a passion for the young people and still now the #1 community activity. In the early days, football helped Steven to reach out to kids and give them a source of hope and joy.
With the help and support of friends of African Road, six acres of land was acquired for soccer and a community hub. Land made a place for buildings and a solar powered well for both the orphaned youth and local community. They now have thriving pig farming, poultry, banana growing, and flour mill businesses. They’ve even opened an innovative preschool business on the cooperative land to generate jobs and income while meeting the needs of the neighborhood.
Most remarkable is that because the youth themselves have led the way. They have become confident entrepreneurs, capable of taking action and making things happen.
One step at a time, they are moving from poverty and hunger to meeting their own needs and caring for each other.
If you want to create change, start by empowering the women.
So often women are connectors, community formers and builders and those who empower others… and their hope is infectious.
Across East Africa in partnership with African Road, groups of women are changing their lives. They are the changemakers.
In Burundi, the Women Rise Up Cooperative are a remarkable example of resilience, providing food for their families in the ‘hungriest country in the world’. The boost of microloan funding from donors is kick starting small businesses of making soap and selling peanuts or used clothing. In the midst of current political turmoil, these women struggle on. African Road continues to search for ways to encourage our partners and strengthen friendship ties.
In Rwanda, a group of women who first met fifteen years ago to ‘cry together’ and share their suffering now build businesses and lives together. They call themselves the New Destiny Women’s Cooperative, and they have worked strategically and against the odds to make good profits and good investments. They are all able send their children to school regularly. Today, they no longer need support from African Road. This is self-sufficiency at work.
Also in rural Rwanda is a younger women’s cooperative called All Souls. They recently received VICOBA training with the support of African Road, empowering them to build businesses, save money, farm beans and corn to provide sustenance for their families, and purchase health insurance. As member Annette says, “we used to say, ‘We can’t do anything ourselves. We can’t manage anything.’ After training, it was like we were awake. We started to see what we could do and the goodness of working together. I think we have accomplished a lot.”