Chantal is a 50-year-old mother of four children, who lives in the Eastern province of Rwanda. She was happily married to Damascene until one morning when she gave birth to her last-born daughter. Damascene told his wife that it was a shame that she had only given birth to girls and that she had embarrassed him in the community. He then decided to sell all that belonged to him and left his home; moving to another district where he married another wife.
A heartbroken Chantal stayed at the family home and tried to take care of her children, completely unaware that her husband had an unpaid bank loan. The bank started following up on the loan payment and the house was the only property left. Unsure of where to begin, she started looked for her husband so that he could pay the bank loan, but to no avail.
Chantal was left homeless with her children –now is when the real struggle had begun for her and the children. She had nothing to start life with, and moved from one place to another until a neighbour felt pity for the little children and offered them her kitchen to live in with her children.
Determined, Chantal started looking for all kinds of jobs to feed her children. She worked on people’s farms, where she would sometimes be given food as compensation and other times a little money. She did not mind doing anything as long as her children would get food. Through all this, Chantal says that she was inspired by James 1:12 which says “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him”.
One morning, Chantal was invited by her pastor to join World Vision’s Empowered Worldview (EWV) training. To her, training was the least of her problems, but because she respected her pastor, she went there. She was motivated by the food she carried back home for her children on the first day, so she kept on coming back.
World Vision uses the EWV curriculum to equip families to increase their incomes, which in turn improves children’s access to good nutrition, education, healthcare, and other life-changing resources. This also strengthens community bonds even across cultural, religious, and social differences—allowing families and community members to break the cycle of poverty together.
“I was transformed by the topic that revolved around how someone can find solutions for their problems”, recalls Chantal. After the training, she committed herself to making a change in her life. She joined a savings group where she saved Rwf 100 (0.1 US cents) every week. After saving for four months, Chantal took out a loan to buy basic needs for her children.
“I was able to get food for the children at least once a day but getting clothes for them was very hard for me”, she says.
Chantal had also started to grow vegetables in old plastic bags, because she did not have a garden, and then sold the vegetables. Seeing how determined and hard-working she was, the church allowed her to grow her vegetables on their land. She started making kitchen gardens on that piece of land.
When her savings group shared out at the end of the year, Chantal got Rwf 20,000 ($ 20) to her, which was worth millions. She then rented a piece of land and grew maize and beans. In the first season, she harvested 80 kilograms of maize and 50 kilograms of beans.
Today, Chantal has employed neighbours on her farm who help her with her farming. She has built a house for herself and also pays medical insurance for two people in her community who cannot afford to pay for themselves.
“I know the pain of poverty and not being able to feed your family. I always reach out to the poor and share with them my testimony so that they also see that it's possible”, concludes Chantal.
By Charity Beza Uwase - Communications Officer