Marie-Rose: "My savings protect me during the pandemic"
My name is Marie Rose and I live in the Karukoro district of Kigali, where many very vulnerable people live. My husband is in prison and I have to raise 6 children by myself. We were very poor before we met FXB almost three years ago.
I am a participant in the VillageFXB SKOL poverty alleviation program, which is now in its final year of implementation.
The pandemic that emerged in China was of little concern to us. Most people in Rwanda didn’t know anything about this disease. After it spread to Europe and other countries around the world, the rumour was that it did not affect Africans. But that soon changed. From the first case in Rwanda, everything went very fast, we were put in quarantine and only essential services were still allowed.
I am very proud to be part of the FXB Rwanda family. It’s true that we are going through a very difficult time during this COVID-19 crisis, but FXB had prepared us to face crises. In three years, I have received a lot of training that has allowed me to greatly improve the well-being of my people.
In the first year, I received training in finance, project management and a small amount of seed capital that allowed me to start a vegetable business. All my children are healthy and are back in school. Before lockdown, I was able to earn up to $5 a day and save regularly.
We have also been trained and helped to grow a vegetable garden where I grow carrots, lamb’s lettuce, cabbage, beets and much more. These vegetables are primarily intended to improve our own diet. I usually sell the surplus to the market, which allows me to increase my income. But during the crisis, I share them with my neighbours who are even poorer than I was before I joined the VillageFXB program.
FXB has taught us to adopt good hygiene habits. We built latrines, showers and a hand-washing station in front of our house. Everybody got into the habit of regularly washing their hands with soap. The government is sensitizing people to do so to protect themselves from coronavirus, whereas for us it is already part of our daily life.
We have also been taught a lot about making plans for the future. I am part of a Savings and Credit Group with which we meet every week to save, share our good experiences and moments of friendship. There are 20 of us in this group and shortly before the crisis began, we had already managed to save $1,200. This is already our second cycle. A cycle lasts 12 months and, at the end, we share the profits that we will choose to reinvest in the development of our small business or to improve our housing.
This time, we decided to use the savings from the second cycle to help us get through this crisis without having to spend too much on personal savings. I will probably have to do it anyway because, even though I continue to operate my vegetable business, my clientele is smaller since the beginning of the lockdown.
My family is not suffering too much from this crisis at the moment. During these difficult moments, the staff of FXB Rwanda remains in regular contact with us remotely, by phone.
Everything I learned from being part of this program and my savings are my life jacket and I made the vow to continue implementing all these valuable lessons by focusing even more on planning for the future.