Somewhere in Mbirizi, a small village tucked in green hills in the very centre of Rwanda, a woman named Djalia stands proudly outside her home. Her small garden outside is watered, the cow, chickens, and rabbits are fed. Her six children and one grandchild are inside, they have all eaten. But things weren’t always this hopeful for Djalia. And her husband is nowhere to be found, a reality that still stings to this day.
“Unserious husbands like mine handicap a family,” she states. “Some wives stay at home waiting for what their husband brings every day. This attitude must stop.”
Life has hardened Djalia. It’s never been easy, but after her husband abandoned her years ago, she thought that the responsibility of providing for her family would crush her. At that time, she had no livestock, no training on how to garden efficiently, no savings group to fall back on. No options. No choice. She would just weep with her oldest children and offer the food they had to the youngest children.
That’s where FH stepped in. Back in 2012, they saw her need as a single mother, and decided to help where her husband had given up. First, they provided Djalia with two chickens and two rabbits. As her rabbits multiplied, and her chickens began to lay eggs, there was more food on Djalia’s dinner table. FH staff taught her how to build a kitchen garden, make compost, and grow nutritious veggies. She says, “This was helpful for me. After receiving agricultural materials, I improved my crop yields and now I know how to make compost and build a kitchen garden.”
She even sold extra produce and rabbits at the market for income. With that extra income, Djalia began saving.
She joined two Savings and Loans groups, and has saved 55,000 RWF ($68 CAD) so far, and expects to save double that by the end of the year! Djalia doesn’t trust that life won’t throw her another curveball, so the savings are both a safety net and her peace of mind.
But perhaps the most valuable thing she received was knowledge and training through FH workshops. She says, “Soon, I will receive refresher training on how to handle family conflicts! I am also ready to start doing business through training from FH. As a volunteer, I deliver lessons about health and education to my neighbourhood. I am happy to be a volunteer and I am respected as an opinion leader, this is enough for me.” She’s become a leader in her community and an example of working hard to get out of her life in poverty.
Djalia’s life motto is now, “God helps those who help themselves.” For some, life’s responsibilities can be stifling. For Djalia, the decision to face her life and not run away was what made the difference.