COVID-19 effects on Kicukiro Women Training Center
Claudine Ingabire got pregnant when she was 16 and was not able to get the support from her parents who were very poor. The father of the kid was not responsive as well. Such situation left Ingabire struggling to put food on the table and get other basic needs she needed with her kid.
“I didn’t have any vision for life. Most of the time, I was depressed asking myself what I would be and how I would be able to afford the needs of my child,” says a 22-year-old and a resident of Kicukiro district.
It was not until June 2020 when she was chosen among the most vulnerable teen mothers to be trained into hands-on skills at Kicukiro Women Training Centre.
After being selected, Ingabire says she started dreaming about a better future. For now Ingabire has already started to harvest from the skills she got.
“Firstly, I’m able to sew my own clothes,” she says pointing at her beautiful yellow dress worn in Kitenge.
Besides, I can make some little money from my neighbors who already know that I’m being trained in tailoring,” she adds.
Vivine Gumyusenge from Nyarugunga Sector in Kicukiro District got pregnant when she was 17. When she got selected to be trained, she was very happy as it was nearly impossible to return to school.
“The sponsor gives us everything. They pay us school fees, school materials, food, and care for our children. Most of us divide meal fees to save for the sewing machines when we end our training in six months,” she said.
Gumyusenge and Ingabire are part of the other 25 young and single mothers who are being trained at the Kicukiro Women Training Centre. The centre started in 2015 with the mandate to help most vulnerable women including street hawkers, sex workers, and teenage mothers to be self-reliant and financially independent instead of always begging their husbands and families.The Idea was from the National Women Council at the district level.
- Teen mothers learning tailoring
Teddy Mukamwiza, the Director of Kicukiro Women Training Centre told Agasaro Magazine that the centre is training only 25 girls whose project was funded by the World Bank instead of 90 girls who were admitted before Covid-19.
These 25 girls are trained, respecting COVID-19 preventive measures. They all wear face masks, use open space rather than classes and respect the one-meter distance, the reason why the center can’t receive more according to Mukamwiza. “We no longer use classes, we use open spaces to be able to distance students. Even the very little fees we used to get from students will not be available because of COVID-19,” she added.
The other girls who are not continuing their training due to covid 19 risk to loose the knowledge they had acquired. “They had a month remaining until graduation. When we talk, they tell me that they have already forgotten what they learned because they are just out there without any practice of the skills they had already acquired,” she said.
Call for more support
“At the beginning of the year, the center together with the city of Kigali pledged to train at least 380 vulnerable women which was feasible before COVID-19 pandemic. Now it is no longer possible to achieve the pledge,” said Mukamwiza.
“We need at least a budget of Rwf40 million per year but now we use only 15million which is also used in repairing and expanding the center buildings,” she said.
“For example, we don’t have where to put a kitchen while we have a donor who accepts to give us the best porridge flour. The very little space we have is used to care for children,” she added.
Another worry is that after COVID-19, many girls and women will need support and more funds will be needed to help them recover, through assisting them with hands-on skills, she said.
“We welcome whoever wants to help vulnerable women to support us. Helping women is helping the whole nation,” she said.