Meet Martha - Our Project Coordinator
Updated: Apr 11, 2019
Martha was born on 22 February 1977, in Huye District. Martha started working with the Batwa People since 1999 in Butare. She started offering catechesis and teaching basic skills to them. In 2005, Martha continued working with the Batwa People while living with them in their communities. This led her to Kibeho on pilgrimage.
When in Kibeho, Martha realised that there were many children who were vulnerable and were pick pocketing from pilgrims. Martha then prayed and asked our Lady of Kibeho in helping her find a way of supporting the children in making them aware of the distraction and the nuisance they do to people who have come from far to pray.
Martha then moved to Kibeho in 2011, to continue working with the Batwa people, the sick and other vulnerable people. Through the Parish priest of Kibeho, Martha was introduced to Netty Butera, who also wanted to support the vulnerable women of Kibeho. In 2014, Janetje Van der Merwe, Rosinah Maepa and Dorah Hlongwane flew to Rwanda and met Martha Mukamana for the first time and a group of twelve women that had been selected by the Parish priest of Kibeho and the Nyaruguru Mayor of Social Affairs.
Netty Butera introduced Martha to Janetje Van Der Merwe and her team. Janetje, Rossinah and Dorah flew to Rwanda to come and give the women the embroidery training. They brought all necessary equipment with them such as 2 sewing machines, fabric and cotton thread to use for embroidering. The training started with a group of twelve women. Today, the women are 30.
This Project has enabled Martha achieve the goal she had in life that of serving the church. Today, Martha lives with seven other young women and men who have dedicated their lives to work with the suffering and pray for them and for the world. Martha is the Project Coordinator of the Kibeho Embroidery Project.
Martha impresses us with the organisation skills she has, always delivering stock at the right time, paying the women on time and ensuring that all the transactions are done with minimum disruption. Martha is the facilitator between Netty Butera, who initiated the Project but resides in South Africa and the women of Kibeho. Martha is the link between the Parish priest and the women of Kibeho.
Martha does all this work for no pay. She, as well as all other women are paid only after they have delivered the embroidery they have made yet Martha has additional work of managing the project from Kibeho. Keeping all the stock, making sure the women are doing their work, checking the quality of work, moving between Kigali and Kibeho to deliver goods or get stock, putting all the accounts together before taking them to the parish for the Parish priest to pay the women their dues.
Two issues that Martha is concerned about are:
An Office space for the women: Currently the women meet at Martha’s house which has temporarily been given to Martha and her seven colleagues by the association of the children she used to support before joining the Kibeho Embroidery Project. Anytime, this house can be taken back and Martha will find herself obliged to move. The women will thus no longer have space to work from.
Currently, the fabrics and cotton threads used to make the embroidery is all purchased from South Africa so as to maintain the quality of the product. When the project started, there was a donation from the Soroptimist International of the Netherlands which sponsored the purchase of the materials to be used and the traveling costs of the trainers from South Africa. In 2016, Pretoria Boys gave a donation of USD 1000 to buy the materials which lasted a year. Women face the challenge of having a permanent stock for materials.
Martha is the cornerstone of the project and we are grateful to have her. She is a patient lady, very forgiving and quiet but with a strong character. And it would be good to have a stipend given to her so she can continue to serve with all her heart while addressing some of the issues she has herself.