Irene’s husband abandoned the family when their children were just nine and five. As a single woman living in a rural community in Busekera, Rwanda, Irene didn’t have a lot of options.
She worked hard to take care of her sons, Francois and Emmanuel. She faithfully farmed their small plot of land, but it wasn’t easy. The harvest was meagre. While Irene managed to keep her small family alive, she couldn’t pull them out of poverty.
In 2017, local Food for the Hungry field staff made a routine visit to families in Busekera where they discovered Irene’s little household. They asked her to tell them her story – Irene was surprised. Why would they care about her? As a poor, abandoned single mother, her status in the community was about as low as it could get. But as they visited, Irene opened up about her hardships. The FH staff were moved. Irene’s neighbours advocated for her to be shortlisted to receive a livestock animal. The staff didn’t need convincing!
Shortly after their visit, Irene received a FH Gift Guide pig. She was overjoyed! The new addition to their family gave her a renewed sense of hope. Irene cared well for her little pig. Soon, it gave birth to a litter of five piglets! She paid-it-forward by giving one of the piglets to a struggling neighbour. The four remaining piglets she sold to buy health insurance for her family and to address some of their immediate financial needs.
Feeling encouraged by the support she received from FH, Irene decided to join a Savings and Loans group. Every week she faithfully put in the little she had to save. The group provided training on entrepreneurship and business skills. Irene decided to take a risk. She borrowed 15,000 Rwanda Francs ($22 CAD) from her group to rent a larger piece of farmland. With the new space, she started growing and selling tomatoes. Her income went up!
In a relatively short amount of time, Irene accumulated enough savings to purchase a cow worth 170,000 Rwanda Francs ($246 CAD)! She was able to buy 12 iron sheets to upgrade the roof on her house from leaky thatch to sturdy metal. And she bought new clothes for herself and her children.
Irene is no longer looked down on by her community. Instead she is the picture of success. She took one little pig and pulled herself out of poverty. With a little help and a lot of encouragement, she transformed her suffering into flourishing.