When Marie Ngendakumana*, who lives in Burundi, was widowed with seven children, she didn’t know how she was going to cope. She cultivates a small holding, but it was impossible to grow enough food, or to earn enough money for the family.

Not knowing what to do next, she was persuaded to enroll in the literacy class that CAPE, a BWA-supported project, was running. She was very proud when she received a good grade: “I can now read my children’s homework”, she says. “My children are proud to see that their mother can read a document, follow their homework ... It encourages them to work well”.

 African ladies sewing in Burundi workshop

Following on from this success, she decided to join CAPE’s sewing workshop to improve her life chances and her family’s financial situation. “I want to learn a trade. Having no training or a diploma creates huge obstacles”, she explains. “As a widow with dependent children, it was very difficult for me to feed the family and provide for them”.

The whole experience has helped her begin a new life, as Marie describes:

“This sewing project allowed me to meet other women who had the same difficulties as me and realise I was not the only one to suffer”.

She goes on: “This gave me the courage to fight for myself. People look at me differently now because I have evolved. I became aware of my own value as a woman. My ambition is to be a good seamstress and to be able to teach sewing to other women. Knowing that I am capable of this, lets me see a better future”.

The women from the sewing workshop started making tote bags that are now available for sale on our website. If you'd like a reusable, 100% cotton and totally original tote bag, visit our website's shop. Be quick! They won't last...

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*For their privacy, we may change the details of the people we support


Daphne Davies is a Volunteer Journalist at Bread and Water for Africa UK.

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