Rwanda is still reeling from the effects of the 1994 genocide, 19 years ago last month, that killed an estimated 1 million people in 100 days, devastating the country and its people. World Vision’s Strong Women, Strong World initiative is assisting women in Rwanda, particularly those impacted by conflict, AIDs and HIV, with vocational and business training.
In 2006, Jacqueline received her first loan from World Vision. She and two other widows received $250 to start a small restaurant. Jacqueline had been widowed twice and had five children to raise. Yet she named the restaurant Ituze, A Place of Peace. In today’s Q&A, Jacqueline sat down with World Vision to talk about her life, her loan, and her love for the Lord.
World Vision: Why did you and your two partners decide to get a loan from Vision Fund?
Jacqueline: “We’d lost our jobs in teaching. The two ladies that I work with sat down and thought, We need to do something about our lives and our children. That’s when we heard about Vision Finance giving small loans. We went there. Then, we had no collateral except a small plot with trees. We said, ‘If we fail to pay you back, even though you don’t need collateral, you can have our trees.’”
World Vision: How did you know your partners?
Jacqueline: “We had already met World Vision. We had all become saved. We went to the same church. Two of us sang in the same choir. Other two ladies had sponsored children also. All of us got saved through our interaction with World Vision.”
World Vision: What were your first steps into the restaurant business?
Jacqueline: “We didn’t have plates. We borrowed from the neighbors. We also borrowed saucepans from the neighbors. The other challenges were that we had little money. When we were bidding to cater for 100 people, that meant we had to find it difficult to supply the food with only 50 plates serving 100 people. We would borrow a plate from here and go to a business man to get a crate of soda. Then we would tell him we’d pay after. We rented a place. We bought a few saucepans. We didn’t want to buy many saucepans because if we went through the money, we’d have no money to buy food. We brought saucepans from our houses. We saved a portion of the loan and with the rest we bought food. We paid it off in six months. When you pay well you have the chance to get another loan.”
World Vision: How did you use the second loan?
Jacqueline: “We used the 100,000 [$175] to buy cooking equipment. We might have 40 clients here in Nyaruguru and 40 clients in another district so we would stranded before we had equipment. Now we have saucepans for the stove and those we put on the table to serve the food.”
World Vision: How did you use your third loan?
Jacqueline: “We invest a portion of it into the business, and the balance we use for our home needs. One of the members recently married so she used the money for the wedding. She’ll have to pay it back, of course. I also bought goats and cows. We use that money to invest in our other home things. When we have a problem, we can sell the goat or the cow.”
World Vision: What has the loan enabled you to do?
Jacqueline: “With the loan, there are things you can do in your life that you couldn’t do without the loan. I buy myself clothes. I buy clothes for my children. The loan helped me take care of my children and pay for their needs. Also myself, I am well. I even paid 200,000 [$350] to buy this plot of land where this house is built.”
World Vision: How does it feel to have someone believe in you?
Jacqueline: “I feel honored. This is a very good thing that World Vision did: trusting me when I am a woman and I don’t have a husband. Some might say, ‘A woman can’t pay this back.’ It has really kind of given me some respect around here. People trust me. I was appointed to be among the sponsorship committee members. In the local authority here there are things I lead. I am now the secretary to the Ruramba sector coordinator.”
World Vision: Has your faith grown?
Jacqueline: “After everything I went through, to some extent I wanted to ignore God. He was unkind. After meeting with World Vision they would share with us the word of God. I got saved. I pray in the Pentecostal church and so do my children.
When they met clients in meetings they would start with prayer and worship. It made me feel good. I also went through the healing and reconciliation workshops. Those changed me.”
World Vision: How else was World Vision part of your success?
Jacqueline: “They trained us in how to effectively use the loan. They trained us how cooperatives are better than associations so we are planning to form a cooperative. My twins are sponsored now. Twins can be a big, big burden. When World Vision registers one, they register the other. World Vision paid for their milk because breastfeeding was very hard for me. They provide school materials and uniforms.”
World Vision: How have things changed for you, your children, and your community?
Jacqueline: “When I talk of my children being able to go to school—I’m talking about me. When I talk about my community—I’m talking about me. But as for me—I’m not naked. I have clothes. If I am to walk with women who have husbands—there is no difference between us. Maybe when you come back, things will be even better. My children will have completed secondary school and working and going to University.”
World Vision: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Jacqueline: “Thank you for putting World Vision in Rwanda. World Vision helped us a lot. From the conflict we were scattered. We were hopeless. We had no where to stay. Now things are good. I plead that you take World Vision all over Rwanda.”