The Genocide in 1994 devastated Rwanda and traumatized the population. World Dance for Humanity is bringing help…and hope…to 25 Rwandan communities struggling to survive and create a sustainable livelihood for themselves.
These communities are organized as government-sanctioned cooperatives. Each co-op was formed by people with something in common who decided to pool their labor in an effort to stay alive. As you will see below, the profiles of these groups are quite varied. There are groups of widows, orphans, former sex-workers, unwed mothers, AIDS victims, poor farmers, and members of the previously warring ethnic groups (Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa) – all of whom now depend on each other to survive – with the help of World Dance for Humanity.
We provide donations of LIVESTOCK (goats and cows) for basic survival, TRAINING in agriculture, business, and leadership, and support for SMALL BUSINESSES managed collectively by each co-op. The key to these ventures is that the ideas and planning come from the co-op members themselves. Justin Bisengimana, our Rwanda Program Director, works with the leadership of the communities all year long to develop and implement their plans. The business plans are being carefully vetted by the finance people on the WD4H Board. We are working with each community to monitor income and expenses.
Please contact Janet Reineck if you would like to know more about the communities or contribute to the work we are doing in partnerships with these communities.
ABADACOGORA “Those Who Never Give Up”
ABAKUNDANA “Those Who Love Each Other”
ABASANGIRANGENDO “Sharing the Journey”
ABISHYIZEHAMWE “United People”
COKAWI “Wake Up and Improve Yourself”
COPAKIKA (UBUMWE BWACU) “Our Unity”
DUFATANYE “Helping Each Other”
EJO HABO “Their Tomorrow”
KUNGABU “Fish Farmers”
MURINDI (Murindi is the name of their neighborhood)
TUBEHO “Let us Live”
TUBEHOTWESE “Let Us All Live”
TWIRERERABANA “Let Us Raise Our Kids”
NEVER AGAIN COOPERATIVES – Eastern Rwanda
ABAHARANIRAMAHORO “Those Who Strive for Peace”
GENDA UGIRE UTYO “Go and Do That”
IMBEREHEZA “Better Future”
INYABUTATUSABANA “3 Peoples Unite”
ITORERO “Traditional Dancers”
RUGANEHEZA “Taking the Nation to a Better Future”
TWISUNGANE “Supporting Each Other”
TWIYUBAKE “Let Us Build Up Ourselves”
Widows and orphans on the outskirts of Kigali
Founded in 2013 by 40 members / Current population: 267
WD4H Donations: Goat shed, farmland, 40 goats
15 Students sponsored
Business Funded: Goat Farm
The Abadacogora Cooperative is located on a steep hillside on the outskirts of Kigali. Established in 2013, it is made up of 40 households comprised mostly of Genocide widows and their children. They banded together, each giving a small amount of cash to start businesses selling charcoal and livestock. In 2013, World Dance for Humanity gave 40 goats and funding to build a shed for the animals. The sale of goat offspring is providing funding so the children can attend school.
Twa (Pygmy) genocide survivors and orphans in southwest Rwanda
Founded in 2012 by 50 members / Current population: 340
WD4H Donations: 4 cows, 50 goats, 45 mattresses, 8 sewing machines, sewing workshop building
13 Students sponsored
Business Funded: Sewing, Reusable Menstrual Pad Project
In 2011, the Twa (Pygmies) of Rwanda left their isolated forest life to enter into modern Rwandan society as farmers and entrepreneurs. A centuries-old life of hunting and digging clay to make pottery has been replaced by a new identity and a new way of life. The Abakundana Cooperative began in 2012 with 50 members, many of them widows and orphans – it has now grown to a population of 340.
The World Dance visit to the Twa (Pygmy) community in the southwest corner of Rwanda in June 2013 was the first contact the Twa had ever had with “Muzungus” (white people). Our encounter was rapturous — dancing together, embracing, reaching into each other’s hearts and lives.
Working together with our Rwanda team, the co-op researched business opportunities based on their experience and the market demand in the Bugarama District, home to 4,000 people. They found that the existing sewing industry did not meet the needs of local consumers. The business they envisioned would offer high quality, affordable clothing (primarily dresses and school uniforms) and clothing repairs to meet the demands of low- to middle-income clients.
Thanks to a gift from the Geiger family, the Twa were able to purchase 8 treadle sewing machines and hire a professional seamstress to train the women. The machines were delivered in June of 2014 during a visit by the World Dancers. We watched them use scissors and thread a needle for the first time. After 12 months of training and practice, the Twa opened their Sewing Business on June 20, 2015. The women are now proud seamstresses with a successful business. A portion of the profit is being shared among the co-op members for their family’s economic development; the rest is deposited in the co-op’s bank account to cover operations and expand the business. They are one of our four co-ops working on a “Reusable Menstrual Pad Project” to provide this critical resource for local women. All these are things the community would never have dreamed of a few years ago!
Unwed mothers who farm and produce handcrafts in the southwest of the country
Founded in 2016 by 132 members / Current population: 792
WD4H Donations: 124 goats
3 Students sponsored
This co-op was founded in 2016 by a group of 40 unwed mothers who came together to try and get beyond basic survival. Later on they invited others to join them. They started by farming together and after some time learned how to make crafts from local craftspeople. They currently make baskets and home decorations out of reeds in the traditional Rwandan style. At this point their craft business isn’t generating much income, so they rely on subsistence farming. They’re researching the possibility of growing coffee. If this turns out to be feasible and potentially lucrative, we will work with them on developing the business.
Poor farmers, mostly women, 3 hours north of Kigali
Founded in 2011 by 25 members / Current population: 149
WD4H Donations: 30 goats , 2 cows
6 Students sponsored
Business Funded: Bakery
Located in the remote mountains of northern Rwanda, this Co-op was founded in 2011 by 25 poor farmers, mostly women, trying to survive by pooling their labor. There are now 149 members. Their land is good but they could never afford livestock or fertilizer. The community went to World Vision in 2012 for help, but didn’t receive funding because they’re too small and isolated for the large aid groups to work with. They heard about the other Cooperatives WD4H is assisting and appealed to Justin to be included in the WD4H program. We have given them 30 goats and a cow in December of 2013, which provide fertilizer for the crops.
The long-term vision of this community has been to improve their farming by introducing more livestock and to start a bakery. There is only one bakery in the area, 3 hours away that brings bread to the remote Abishyizehamwe community once a week. That distant bakery is part of a larger enterprise that doesn’t pay much attention to these remote services. The community researched the viability of building their own bakery and thought long and hard about how to make it successful. They saw a strong market for the product: their community of 3,000 people including 2,000 students at 3 local boarding schools they will sign contracts with for 2 deliveries per week.
The bakery was funded in 2016 with generous help of WD4H supporter Michelle Joanou, and is prospering! The community learned many lessons from Tubeho bakery which was started a year earlier, and in turn is helping Good Family, our student co-op, launch their own bakery. This cross-training is a crucial part of our Rwanda business program.
Former sex workers on the outskirts of Kigali
Founded in 2008 by 16 members / Current population: 183
WD4H Donations: Funds to turn their marshland into farmland, irrigation system
6 Students sponsored
Business Funded: Chickens, Milk Goats
The Cokawi Cooperative was founded in 2008 by 16 former female sex workers and orphans with HIV-AIDS. They pooled their ideas and energy to build a new life in the outskirts of Kigali. The co-op has grown to 183 members, relying on their goats, rabbits, and meager crops for sustenance. The Rwandan government gave Cokawi a 1-hectare (2.5 acre) parcel of marshland to farm, but traditional methods of irrigation and draining are poor and the crop yield is low, about 10% of what it would be if the land were well drained and fertilized. The goats provided fertilizer for the crops, bringing the yield to 65% of desired production.
Years ago, co-op members started looking into how they could improve the land to increase the harvest and create a viable goat and farm business. They arrived at a method of digging furrows and draining the land and so it can be readied for crops. They received a grant from a WD4H donor to convert the marshland to farmland and protect it from erosion. They used the funds to buy tools, hire an expert to help with technical aspects of the project, and hire some of the labor (all but two of the members are women and most of the members have AIDS). In 2017, the same donor provided funds to install an irrigation system to support the crops during the dry season (June to September).
In 2018, they received a grant from the Procter & Gamble Alumni Foundation to hire a professional goat breeder to start a milk goat breeding enterprise, something very rare in Rwanda. Once the breeding program is underway, they’ll start helping other co-ops launch a milk goat program of their own.
Women Genocide survivors on the outskirts of Kigali
Founded in 2007 by 211 members / Current population: 427
WD4H Donations: 60 goats, 60 mattresses
2 Students sponsored
Copakika was founded in 2007 by a group of female Genocide survivors who banded together in the hope of improving their lives. After forming the cooperative, they were able to receive a plot of land from the government, but were having a hard time making ends meet. We adopted them as a co-op in 2017 and gave them 70 mattresses – one for every woman who had been sleeping on thin mats on the ground. Many of these women suffer from AIDS and the mattresses have made a big difference in their lives. We delivered 60 goats to them on January 2018, which has given them manure for their crops and a small income. We are working on helping them develop a business that will sustain this large community.
Women with aids in north-central Rwanda near Ruhengeri
Founded in 2015 by 125 members / Current population: 507
WD4H Donations: Working on a donation of 135 goats in 2018
2 Students sponsored
Dufatanye was founded as a farming cooperative in 2015 by female Genocide survivors who suffer from AIDS. They are located in a very remote area in Rwanda’s northern province on the way to the gorillas. They were adopted by WD4H in 2017, as we are working together to come up with an idea for a sustainable business venture that would support the community.
Orphans on the outskirts of Kigali
Founded in 2010 by 12 members / Current population: 25
WD4H Donations: 46 goats, 1 milk goat, 2 cows
21 Students sponsored
Businesses Funded: Pigs, Reusable Menstrual Pad Project
In 2010, Julian (Justin Bisengimana’s mother) started caring for 10 orphans from the genocide in a village 2 hours south of Kigali. WD4H has given them 21 goats that produce both fertilizer for banana crops and goat offspring to sell for cash at the local market, and 1 milk goat. The money raised helps the orphans attend school, cover health insurance, and other basic needs. In 2017, WD4H supporter Kathy Bart made a generous donation to help them start a pig business. Now they have goats, cows, pigs, and farmland. Each month, one of our World Dancers, Marcia Warrecker, underwrites a small salary for Bosco the farmer who oversees all the livestock and land. They have also started a Reusable Menstrual Pad Project to serve the women in their region. One our college students, Odilla, is now President of the co-op, and is determined to ensure that every orphan has a chance to finish school!
Poor farmers in eastern Rwanda
Founded in 2012 by 7 members / current population: 167
WD4H Donations: Farmland, 127 goats, 3 cows
11 Students sponsored
Located near the Never Again Fellowship in Eastern Rwanda, this Cooperative was formed in 2012 when 7 poor farming families contributed 100 Rwandan Francs each (about $15) to buy pigs and rabbits to raise together. There are now 167 people in the co-op households. They envision improving their farming project by introducing goats and cows. Their dream is to purchase a corn-processing machine that will grind and package the corn so they can sell it in their region. They received a grant for land in May 2015 from the Fort Foundation and are currently working to obtain the deed for the land to complete the purchase.
AIDS victims, south of Kigali
Founded in 2008 by 100 members / Current population: 240
WD4H Donations: 3 cows, 128 goats, farmland
5 Students sponsored
Located 90 minutes from Kigali in the Bombogo Sector of Central Rwanda, the Komera Cooperative was founded in 2008 by 100 genocide survivors who have AIDS. Knowing they couldn’t survive as marginal farmers with a debilitating disease, they decided to work together and support each other to ensure their long-term sustainability. There are now 240 people in the co-op. They grow corn, vegetables, and raise livestock, including 3 cows and 112 goats donated by World Dance for Humanity. Together they generate income from selling cow milk and the goat offspring. Through community effort and hard work, they are teaching future generations that despite AIDS, change is possible.
Fish farmers in southwest Rwanda
Founded in 2008 by 30 members / Current population: 266
WD4H Donations: 2 cows
Businesses Funded: Tilapia Fish Farm
19 Students sponsored
In 2008, 30 families founded this Cooperative near Lake Kivu in Southwest Rwanda with a vision for a business that would sustain all of the members: the farming of Tilapia fish. Under the leadership of Callixte Sebakungu (now 81 years old), they started collecting a small amount of money from each member and were able to purchase a piece of land and agricultural tools to dig 16 massive fish ponds and build 16 rabbit houses on each pond so as to feed the small fish the rabbit droppings. Goats for Life gave them a grant of $9,000 to help them purchase the baby Tilapia to start the project. They managed the money wisely and were able to build an office and store where they sell the fish.
In June 2013, World Dance for Humanity visited the Kungabu Cooperative for the first time. Unbeknownst to us, they had waited for our visit to harvest their first crop of Tilapia. We helped them cut the ribbon in front of their brand-new store, and watched them sell their first fish. This is the beginning of a brighter future for this community, one that will set a model for other Cooperatives in the country.
Rwanda’s fish farmers are dependent on Uganda for a special fish food the Tilapia need to grow big enough to sell commercially. Thanks to the efforts of Betsy Kain and Sadie Leventhal, we have raised the funds to purchase a fish food machine, the first of its kind in Rwanda, so they will be able to produce fish food, not only for their own Tilapia, but to sell to the surrounding fish farmers.
Widows and orphans in the outskirts of Kigali
Founded in 2012 by 39 members / Current population: 220
WD4H Donations: 10 Cows
22 Students sponsorshed
Seeking: Farmland for a dairy
Located only 15 minutes from downtown Kigali, the Murindi Cooperative was started in 1990 by 40 widows and orphans who had survived the 1994 Genocide. Some were victims of rape and had contracted AIDS. These courageous women decided to work together to find solutions for their survival and long-term development. Goats for Life and World Dance for Humanity have provided goats and 10 cows. The sale of the goats’ offspring and of cow milk covers their basic needs. They have a lively entrepreneurial spirit and are creating a Micro-Dairy where they can raise cows and sell the milk.
Women with AIDS south of Kigali
Founded in 2011 by 35 members / Current population: 170
WD4H Donations: 2 Milk Goats
3 Students sponsored
Business Funded: Bakery
Tubeho “Let Us Live” Cooperative was started in 2011 by 35 men and women, most of whom have AIDS. Currently, 170 members survive by growing crops for their own food and to sell at market to earn money for other basic needs in their households. The only bread available was 90 minutes away in Kigali, and the co-op members researched the possibility of starting a bakery in their region.
In 2014 they received a $4,500 grant from a World Dancer to purchase materials and equipment, build an oven, and rent a small house that will serve as a shop. They hired an experienced baker for 5 months to teach them to be bakers. On April 28, 2015, the Tubeho Bakery opened their doors for business – selling bread, cakes, and many more delicious baked goods. Their first customers were in their own community; now they’re supplying bread to shops and schools throughout the region. This is a huge victory for this community and the beginning of a livelihood for all!
Widows and their families in northern Rwanda
Founded in 2007 by 12 members / Current population: 413
WD4H Donations: 80 Goats, 2 cows
7 Students sponsored
Businesses Funded: African Hill School, Sewing Business
Founded in 2007 in the northern corner of Rwanda on the Ugandan border, the Tubehotwese Cooperative was started by 12 widows from the genocide. One of the members was able to provide a piece of land where the community grows crops for their own consumption. Together they built a temporary house for homeless widows until permanent housing can be constructed. The group is suffering from extreme poverty, but they are ambitious and ready to change their lives by working together.
On February 18, 2015, they opened a nursery school funded by World Dancer Sherry Robin. The Cooperative had been planning this project for several years as a way to get children ready for primary school. They used the donation to repair a badly damaged building and turn it into two good school rooms, build furniture, buy supplies, and pay for a training course for one of the teachers (the other teacher had previous training). The school has been VERY successful! There are 93 children attending, ages 4 to 6, from the Tubehotwese co-op and other families in the area. World Dancer Juanita Johnson and her husband Hymon are generously contributing a monthly stipend to pay for the teacher salaries.
Unwed mothers and widows north of Kigali
Founded in 2013 by 105 members / Current population: 527
WD4H donations: 2 cows, 55 goats, farmland
10 Students sponsored
Business Funded: “Dignity Cafe”
The Twirererabana Cooperative in northern Rwanda was founded by a group of unwed mothers who had been rejected by the babies’ fathers and by their own families. They formed a cooperative in 2013 to help each other survive. They dreamed of becoming farmers and sending their children to school, and World Dance stepped up to help them, donating 45 goats, 2 cows, farmland, and stipends for school. The cooperative is led by a courageous, clever, inspiring woman named Olive. The community now has 527 members, their crops are doing well, the children and teens are attending school, and their vision for the future is expanding.
In 2015, they came up with the idea of opening a restaurant and store where they could sell the food they grow. WD4H supporter Michelle Joanou donated the amount needed to purchase the building and start the business. The women called the cafe “Isheja” (Dignity) to reflect the role this project is playing in their lives. It is strategically located where their district’s health clinic, school, and government office are. Their leader Olive thought of installing a TV and refrigerator, things very new in this region, to draw customers, and her plan worked! The restaurant opened March 29, 2016, with great joy and celebration. It was a historic moment for these women. Once outcasts, they are now leaders in their region.
Women genocide survivors south of Kigali
Founded in 2010 by 40 members / Current population: 201
WD4H Donations: 2 milk goats, farmland, 2 cows, cowshed
17 Students sponsored
Business Funded: Land for Cows
The Umunezero Cooperative was formed by 40 women genocide survivors in 2010. The women have developed a small farming income thanks to donations of goats and cows by Goats for Life and 2 milk goats by WD4H. Since the co-op began, it has grown to 201 members.
Goats for Life donations to Umunezero in 2012 included three pregnant cows, which have given birth to four calves! The milk produced by the cows is shared: 50% goes to the co-op members and 50% is sold for the co-op sustainability. They have been keeping their seven cows in a small shed they built in a tiny yard owned by one of the co-op members. But there are too many cows for this space now and it’s not a healthy environment for them. Because they don’t have land where they can grow feed for the cows, they have to buy it from other farmers for $30/month.
In May 2014, World Dance helped Umunezero purchase a two-acre parcel of land and buy materials to build the cow shed. The project is managed by the co-op members, including sales, management, and finances, and is prospering!
(A group of 9 Cooperatives in Eastern Rwanda)
Never Again Fellowship is a group of nine cooperatives focused on reconciliation and forgiveness among the formerly warring Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups, and on integration of the Twa (Pygmy) people, a historically marginalized minority within Rwandan society. In 2008, 12 people made the courageous move to overcome the trauma they still bore and decided to stay alive by pooling their efforts to create a sustainable collective economy. Goats for Life and World Dance for Humanity have donated many goats and cows, giving families the means to survive. There are now 5.090 people at Never Again, divided into 9 Cooperatives. Each is working hard to create a sustainable livelihood through agriculture and livestock and has planned for a business venture to sustain the community.
Women singers in the Kayonza District
Founded in 2008 / Current population: 376
WD4H Donations: Mattresses, 1 cow, farmland
4 Students sponsored
Business Funded: Events Rentals
Abaharaniramahoro members have formed a wonderful singing group, some of the members play instruments, and, thanks to a grant from the Procter & Gamble Alumni Foundation, have launched their Event Rental Business, which is doing well!
Women’s Collective in the Gahini District
Founded in 2013 by 100 members / Current population: 1,680
WD4H Donations: 5 cows, 236 goats
5 Student sponsored
Business Funded: Event Rentals, Reusable Menstrual Pad Project
Genda Ugire Utyo is a large dynamic, inspired women’s co-op founded in 2013 by 100 members. There are now 236 members working together to survive and build a better life for themselves and their families. We visited the community in June of 2014, and were deeply impressed with their passion about the co-op and their belief in the future. They worked hard to come up with a business that would help sustain the members, and decided to get in to Event Rentals. A generous grant from the Procter & Gamble Alumni Foundation made this possible in 2017, and everyone is involved in making it a success.
Founded in 2014 by 47 members / Current population: 350
WD4H Donations: 24 goats, 1 cow “Ismail”
15 Students sponsored
Business funded: Bakery
Good Family Cooperative was the vision of a group of high school and college students we sponsor who made the bold decision to start their own co-op and develop their own income-generating enterprise, rather becoming official members of their parents’ co-ops and waiting for the unlikely prospect of finding jobs in their region. They joined with other students whose parents were members of the local co-ops, and started meeting together in 2014, learning more from Justin about the leadership and management skills they would need to run a successful cooperative. In 2017, they became a full-fledged, government-sanctioned cooperative.
Most of the Good Family members still live with their parents, so Good Family isn’t independent geographically – but it is a separate legal and economic entity. The first project they embarked on was to raise enough money to buy two pigs and start a small enterprise, saving all the money they made from this enterprise to invest in future opportunities. In 2017 they were adopted as one of WD4H’s co-ops and given 24 goats. In 2018 they were given a cow, “River,” by the San Diego World Dancers. We also sponsor 5 high school students, 5 high school grads hoping to attend college, and 4 college students. Thanks to our support, the ongoing guidance from our Rwanda team, and the dedication of these courageous young people, the community has grown to 350.
Their vision was to start a bakery to serve their region. In 2018 they were received a grant, through WD4H, from the Proctor and Gamble Alumni Foundation, for the bakery! They visited our two other bakeries, Tubeho and Abishyizehamwe, to learn are they could about the business. They’re in the process now of deciding on a good location, planning the construction of the oven with an oven-building expert, and looking for an electric mixer to purchase. This extraordinary group of young people now have everything they need to build a strong and sustainable community.
Genocide survivors in the Gahini District
Founded in 2008 / Current population: 1,088
WD4H Donations: 5 cows, 17 goats
6 Students sponsored
Seeking funds for: Marshland to farmland
Old farmers in the Kayonza District
Founded in 2008 / Current population: 286
WD4H Donations: 2 cows
4 Students sponsored
Business Funded: Grass Cutting Machine
Professional dance group, offshoot of Imbereheza
Founded in 2016 by 75 members / Current population: 394
WD4H Donations: 76 goats, 1 cow
Like Good Family, Itorero was founded by young people who decided to form their own cooperative instead of joining of their parents’ co-op, Imbereheza. In 2016 they established themselves as an official cooperative with the goal of supporting themselves as performers of traditional Rwandan dances for weddings, baptisms, and other events in their region. Traditional dance performances are an important part of Rwandan celebrations, and the group is in demand! They were adopted as a WD4H co-op in 2017 and given 76 goats to care for. When they’re not dancing, they continue to help with the farming at Imbereheza.
RUGANEHEZA “Taking the Nation to a Better Future”
Genocide survivors in Kayonza District
Founded 2008 / Current population: 324
WD4H Donations: 2 cows, rainwater collection tank
16 Students sponsored
Business Funded: Ventilation Brick Production, Water Distribution
This co-op has two businesses, both started in 2017. The first is a water distribution for the people in their region, funded by Martina Michenfelder, Starr Siegele, and Kathy Bart. The second is a Ventilation Brick Business, funded by Procter & Gamble Alumni Foundation. Both business are doing well!
Women’s Collective in Kayonza District
Founded in 2008 / Current population: 292
WD4H Donations: 1 cow, farmland
8 Students sponsored
Women handcraft entrepreneurs in the Kayonza District
Founded in 2008 / current population: 300
WD Donations: 4 cows, mattresses
11 Students sponsored
Business Funded: Sewing and Knitting, Reusable Menstrual Pad Project
The Twiyubake have experience making traditional handcrafts, which they sell in the local market. They had been doing research since 2013 to identify economic opportunities in their community based on the skills of their members, what they spend money on the most, and the demands of the local community. They found that the existing sewing industry in their area does not meet all the customers’ needs and there is little competition in this area.
In April 2014, WD4H supporter Kathy Bart funded knitting and sewing machines so the women can produce a broad range of high quality dresses and school uniforms at a competitive price to meet the demands of low to middle-income residents in the small town of Kayonza (5,100 residents). One of the co-op members is a skilled seamstress, and they hired a teacher to make sure their instruction was complete. The business opened in May 2015, and is being managed by the co-op members, including sales, management, and finances. 75% of the profit is shared among the co-op members for their family’s economic development. The remainder is deposited in the co-op’s bank account to be used for future co-op investments.