18 March 2011

Rwanda: Unaids Commends Gahaya Links

Kigali — The Executive Director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibé, has hailed Gahaya Links for economically empowering women living with HIV, saying it has greatly improved their lives.

Sidibé was visiting HIV positive women involved in handcraft work at Gahaya Links' headquarters in Kigali.

"Development that empowers people with skills to work and earn out of their activities is sustainable, especially when these skills are homegrown," Sidibé commented.

He encouraged women to effectively use the skills to gain profit from the opportunities presented to them.

Some women testified how weaving keeps them healthier and are able to take care of their families.

"After realizing that I was HIV positive, I thought it was the end of my life, but since I came here, I am working and earning like never before," said Soline Mukansanga.

She added that her health was deteriorating every other day and she could not afford medication.

"If I work very well, I am able to earn Rwf 3000 a day. I can now afford medication," she said.

Joy Ndunguste, the founder and CEO of Gahaya Links, attributed the company's achievements to the commitment of Rwandan women towards poverty eradication.

According to Ndunguste, the company currently has 5,000 weavers grouped in 52 cooperatives across the country.

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