Fresh Fritters, Anyone?
Located in the remote mountains of northern Rwanda, the Abishyizehamwe (“United People”) Cooperative was founded in 2011 by 25 poor farmers, mostly women. They couldn’t afford livestock or fertilizer and were struggling to survive on their meager crops. In 2012 they went to World Vision for help, but didn’t receive funding because they’re too small and isolated for a large aid group to work with.
They heard about WD4H and appealed to our Program Director, Justin Bisengimana, for assistance. He saw that Abishyizehamwe had able leadership and the will to work hard together, and in 2013 adopted them as one of the WD4H cooperatives. We gave a goat to each of the families, and a full-grown, pregnant cow to the cooperative. These small but critical donations helped the co-op members break out of their inertia and despair, and they began to envision a future for themselves and their children. There are now 149 Co-op members and their families working hard to build a sustainable livelihood and a better life.
With the nearest bakery three hours away, the members came up with a plan to build their own bakery that would serve their region. In June of 2016, WD4H supporter Michelle Joanou donated $3,000 to get the project off the ground. The community worked for a year to build and prepare for production. They visited our Tubeho Cooperative, who opened their own bakery last year, to learn everything they could from them.
On March 16, 2017 the Abishyizehamwe community celebrated the official opening of their bakery!
The “Thank You” sign for Michele, who made this all possible, is near the entrance, reminding everybody who comes to the bakery, and all the passersby, of this precious gift.
There was a big celebration with dance and singing as the members expressed their happiness and their thanks to Michelle!
“You brought a huge change not just in this co-op but in the entire community as we had no bakery before. It is not easy for us to feel that we own it, thank you so much for helping us own what we thought it would not be possible for us.” – Mediatrice (in the green shawl)
“Our lives have been given a meaning. I easily see how important it is to be patient. If we were not patient most of us would have left. We had this dream for long time now it comes to happen. We have no way to thank our friend Michelle enough. As an old mother, I pray for her blessings the rest of her life and that God continues to protect her. She really means a lot in our lives.” – Marie Kantengwa (in the yellow dress)
“Life can change. None of us knew that in this time we would be celebrating our achievements. Of course we had a dream but we could not see which way to make those dreams a reality. We keep requesting our donors to continuously walk alongside with us because we still have a long way to go, but we believe the more they get closer to us, the easier our journey will be. We thank you so much our dear friend Michelle for being there for us, for your acceptance to produce the reason of our transformation. God bless you!” – Jeanne Mukamana