At Hands Producing Hope, a huge aspect of our mission is to create opportunity for women, in places where it is often difficult to come by. At our weaving and sewing cooperatives in Rwanda, we do this by providing training and work in product development and craftsmanship.
However, when we realized that many of the women we worked with faced other obstacles due to lack of education—the inability to read and write—we sought out more comprehensive solutions.
HANDS PRODUCING HOPE’S LITERACY SCHOOLS
Our Nkombo Island and Bugumira Island literacy schools provide weekly courses on reading, writing, and basic English—all crucial skills for these women to thrive in their communities.
Not only has the school been a resource of invaluable education for women in this remote region, it has also opened the door for more employment opportunities on the island.
HOW TEACHING HAS IMPROVED JANE AND GAKURU’S LIVES
Before becoming teachers at our literacy schools, Jane of Nkombo Island and Gakuru of Bugumira Island both struggled to find employment despite the fact that they had acquired an education.
Since stepping up as educators to their fellow community members, their ability to earn a regular income has improved certain aspects of their lives immeasurably.
With her salary, Jane was able to obtain medical insurance for her family, get electricity in her home, and comfortably support her two children. Gakuru helped to pay for the house her husband built for their family.
HOW LITERACY EDUCATION IS CHANGING THE COMMUNITY
While she is enjoying the empowerment of her own employment, Jane says that being able to help other women succeed has been remarkably rewarding.
“When women know how to read and write, they are recognized,” she said. “Some women were elected as community health workers after these classes.”
Gakuru says that in addition to giving women tools to find jobs for the first time, she’s also observed how spreading literacy is directly impacting existing businesses in their community.
“Odethe is a business lady,” she said. “She started coming to school because she didn’t know how to read or write, and her business was failing. Now she is able to keep better records for her business, read messages from her clients, and use mobile money.”
The effects reach directly into people’s homes as well. One of Jane’s students, she said, described the pride she felt in being able to help her child with her homework for the first time.
“When you teach a woman to read, you are teaching a family, and the society she lives in,” said Jane. “It relieves the heavy load from her back, and then she can use her knowledge to do other business. It frees women from their isolation, and in the future—I believe it will increase the community’s value of education as a whole.”
July 25, 2019