Anne Hidalgo, the visiting Mayor of Paris, has commended women who have beaten poverty, malnutrition and managed to send their children to school or started income generating activities under a programme funded by the Mairie de Paris, the Paris City Hall.
On Tuesday, she visited the programme that is being implemented by FXB Rwanda, a non-governmental organisation operating in the districts of Nyarugenge, Rubavu and Muhanga since 2006.
The programme focuses on addressing root causes of poverty by providing education support in primary, secondary and TVET schools and giving capital to families to start income generating activities.
Other activities include educating parents on Early Childhood Development, supporting, educating and training beneficiaries on nutrition, hygiene and sanitation; and HIV prevention.
"This is a model that fully justifies our partnership. It is exactly what we are seeking together. But I want to also say that is a good lesson having seen how much of a spillover effect economically empowering women can have," she said.
The Mayor of Paris pledged to continue supporting the programme.
"By the way, we signed yesterday an agreement with the Mayor of Kigali to amplify the relationship between Paris and Kigali. I believe a programme like this is very important (and deserves) support," she said.
Adeline Manikuzwe, the programme manager at FXB Rwanda, said that the programme has so far supported about 700 families and is benefitting over 5,000 members through small income generating activities, fighting malnutrition, HIV prevention and others.
Beneficiaries of FXB village program during their exhibition yesterday. / Nadège Imbabazi
The programme also supported 2,000 children in their primary education, 400 students in secondary education while 240 youths have been supported through TVET.
Jacqueline Yankurije, a mother to one of the beneficiaries, said she could not afford school fees for her children before she started getting support under the programme. Her husband is disabled.
"Two of my children are in secondary school, one is in primary, and another one at university, and they have all been supported through the programme," she said, adding that she has now started growing vegetables; cabbages, tomatoes and mushrooms, from which she supports her family.
She said that, from just mushrooms, she earns between Rwf10,000 and Rwf20,000 every week.
Yankurije said that, currently, she is capable of keeping her children in school on her own.
Jeanne Umuhoza, a young woman who had dropped out of school since her mother could not afford her school fees after she completed ordinary level, was sponsored to study welding for one year.
"Currently, I work and save at least Rwf60,000 a month," she said.