Today we mourn the passing of Naome Nyiraneza, 74 years old, President of the Tubehotwese (“Let Us All Live”) Cooperative, who died last Saturday, January 27, 2018. Those of us who have been to Rwanda knew Naome as a woman of great passion and vision, who led her community from the depths of poverty toward a better future. Under her leadership, the co-op gained a sense of unity and purpose, and the confidence and skills they needed to change their lives.
When we met them, Tubehotwese had no livestock and no income-generating enterprises. Now each family has goats and the cooperative has several cows. The milk is providing a desperately-needed source of protein for the members, and the fertilizer for crops means there is finally adequate food. In 2014, under Naome’s leadership, Tubehotwese started a Nursery School so children up to age six can get ready for primary school. The school is thriving, with 100 students, four teachers, and classes year-round. This spring, they will start their first business, a sewing collective. All of this, thanks to Naome’s leadership.
Naome’s loss was felt very deeply by her community, our Rwanda Team,
and all of the cooperatives we serve.
Justin Bisengimana: “You can’t imagine all the tears at the funeral. Everyone was crying, adults and children, because of who she was and what she had done in her life. She was an amazing leader, loved and respected by all. I spoke at the funeral on behalf of World Dance for Humanity, encouraging the community not to stop, but to carry on Naome’s work, including the nursery school we started together, and the sewing business that will open this spring. Naome left us with a message to share with the world – we must continue her work and share that message.”
Dany Rukundo: “Naome was a real leader, strong, wise, smart and fresh-minded. She changed the lives of the neighbors, Tubehotwese members, and had a vision to transform all community through education and sewing projects. I promise not to disappoint her for sustaining what she has achieved and make her dreams becoming reality. Rest In Peace Naome, we will always remember you. We already miss your smile, advices and your kindness.”