My name is Fthr. Jean Hagumamahoro. I have been a priest since twelve years. I am the parish priest of Kibeho, in the Diocese of Gikongoro. I have spent one year and a half in Kibeho. During the handover with my predecessor, he informed me about the Kibeho Embroidery project. How it started, who are the partners in the project and what role does the church play in the project.
I then came to meet with Martha Mukamana, project coordinator as they were some issues regarding the management of people within the project. So Martha gave me a full briefing of the project. I was then introduced to Netty Butera, project initiator who resides in South Africa and who gave me the background of the project as well. Netty asked the church to be able to support the women in managing funds.
Most women in the project did not have a chance to go to school and therefore to do book keeping is still a challenge for them. I welcomed Netty’s suggestion and informed her that I shall first get the approval of the Bishop of Gikongoro before opening an account for the ladies within the Parish. I then contacted Bishop Celestin Hakizimana, who welcomed the news and asked that Netty meets him the next time she is in Rwanda. Netty Butera came to visit the Project in December 2017 and met with me for the first time as well as the Bishop. On our part as members of the Church, this news was welcomed because it was going to address some of the challenges we face in our work; that of being able to support vulnerable people within our Diocese.
The Bishop then approved that our Parish opens a sub account in the name of the Project. The Kibeho Embroidery Project has its own sub account within the overall account of the Parish. The Women come to the Parish to collect their dues. Martha Mukamana presents a list of those who have sold bags or cushions and the number of items per person. Each lady then collects her dues and signs the book. This has made the project more transparent and all members are sure of getting paid when they deliver their products for sale.
This Project has touched me a lot in the sense that these women were beggars and did not have any hope in life but the Project has given them hope and dignity. The women are no longer the most vulnerable of their society cos they can afford a meal a day, they can afford to buy clothes for themselves and the children, and they have all paid Mutuelle, which is an affordable medical insurance for ordinary people. These ladies are no longer fitting in the lower social categories of the social protection programme of Kibeho and of Rwanda in general.
Some urgent issues to address are:
An adequate Office where the women could meet and do the embroidery:
Currently, the women are working in Martha Mukamana’s house. This house was given to Martha by a project called Adeya, which Martha was working for before joining the Kibeho Embroidery Project. This house is not up to standards, there is no power, no bathrooms and seems like an unfinished house. It may fall anytime due to the conditions in which it was built and is never maintained. Adeya project may ask Martha to evacuate the house anytime. It would be convenient to either rent a new house for the women to work in or to build an office for them. The Parish is not able to offer office space as we are also facing a similar challenge at the Parish level.
A second wish is to see the number of women increasing.
Currently, it is a group of 30 women doing embroidery. It will be good to have the number doubled within a year. This will reduce the level of the suffering in our Diocese.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Netty Butera and all the people who are behind the Kibeho Embroidery Project. As a Parish priest, this contributes a lot in solving some of the issues I face when it comes to assisting the needy, which becomes a challenge as the church cannot address all issues due to the limited resources we have.
May the Lord Bless you.
Father Jean de Dieu Hagumamahoro