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Women's Literacy Program

h2 Empower has supported a women’s literacy project to enable the women who are participating in a microloan project to become literate and succeed with their business and in supporting their family. These women attended classes twice a week in 2 different sections of the city, Bujumbura. They learned to read and write, do math and accounting for their business. They were provided with books, supplies and trained teachers. This program enabled illiterate women to improve their lives and the lives of their children. The project was partially funded by a grant from the Unitarian Universalist Women’s Federation. Please help us to continue these much needed classes so that new women receiving  microloans will have access to an education to support them. 

Microloan Project

h2 Empower in conjunction with the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Huntington’s BOW (Beyond Our Walls) committee has provided an opportunity for 103 women to take a loan to begin a small business in Bujumbura, the capitol of Burundi. These small businesses include selling vegetables, raising animals for sale, making crafts and other objects and other small endeavors. This opportunity will be afforded to women who are selected by a committee after they are trained. They are continually supported in their efforts to sustain an income through their small business. This business opportunity means that the women are able to support their family, send their children to school, pay rent, pay back their loan and hopefully expand their business. A small amount of money goes far to transform lives in Africa.

Below is a description, in the words of the director of the program, of one women’s accomplishment after receiving a loan.

I will give an example of the woman I just visited yesterday. Her name is Donavine. She sells Cassava roots which are dry and then give flour after they take them to the milling machine. With 100$ (120.000 Burundi Francs), she can buy 4 bags of 50 KGs  of cassava roots @30.000 each, including the transportation to and from. She takes the cassava roots to the machine and pays around $2 each and then sells the flour from her home.  In 50 Kgs of cassava, she gets approximately 45Kg of flour.  A kg of flour is 900 BF. In her experience, she can sells the 4 bags usually in less than a week.

She has made 180Kg of flour

She will sell them @1.62000BIF

The expenses are roughly: 10.000BIF

She remains with 152000BF

A profit of 32000BF. She survives on the 32000BF and pays part of it.  She pays 20.000BF per month (5000BF per week). Remaining with at least 25000BIF per week. (Remember she is a widow, she will have to pay rent and get food, send the children to school with that amount). It will definitely come down to less than $1 a day.  But she is among the lucky one who got the money.

 I have heard stories like these many many times.


University Scholarships for Orphans

h2 Empower in conjunction with some members of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Huntington, NY and friends has created a scholarship fund for orphans who have demonstrated exceptional ability in high school but because of intense poverty they can not go on to higher education. So far we have been able to give 15 full and one partial scholarship to young people. Without this opportunity these students would never be able to get an advanced education and their employment opportunities would be very limited. Each have demonstrated a commitment to take care of their brothers and sisters and other family members as they succeed in their life. An investment in education goes farther than you can ever imagine. Please consider sponsoring as student for 4 years for a total of $500 a year.

Description of one student's situation: (Translated from Kirundi)

Clovis Munezero 

We are 4 children of same mother and father and both parents are dead. The elder sister is invalid and then comes my elder brother. I am number 3 followed by my sister who is number 4.

My dream is to finish studies preferably in the health sector. To get a degree which can help me to help myself, help my brothers and sisters and society at large.

I would like also to have different training in different sectors so that I can mingle my way on the job market like computer literacy and some training in marketing.

Fulgence Ndagijiama administers the program (photo by Ken Farrell)