Our programs are geared towards the empowerment of Rwandan women who are survivors of the 1994 Tutsi genocide. This village is not only a home for perpetrators and survivors of genocide, but also an opportunity to reconstruct their lives together despite their horrific past.
Women are being taught a trade which will enable them to become self-sufficient, not only as seamstresses, but also as entrepreneurs producing products that display international standards. Additionally, the program encompasses other components, such as child-care services, agriculture, health and nutrition, and education, as well as community and business development.
We realize that no resource is as important as the Human Resource. Therefore, in an effort to ensure our students have every academic and technical advantage to excel as productive members of the business community in Rwanda, and most importantly, society at large, we are reaching out to everyone with the hopes that you will join us in developing our school’s programs. If you give people tools, they will use their natural ability to develop beyond all expectations.
READING AND WRITING PROGRAM
By the end of the year’s training course, our students will be more literate in verbal and written Kinyarwanda and English. The program is aimed at improving a student's reading, writing and verbal skills.
Reading development is dependent on our students’ understanding of the alphabetic principle: the idea that letters and letter patterns represent the sounds of spoken language.
Phonological awareness is the ability to recognize and manipulate the spoken parts of words — including rhymes, syllables, and phonemes.
We will provide our teachers with effective, research-based classroom strategies to help build and strengthen literacy skills in phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, and writing.
Our introductory sewing courses provide students with knowledge about fabric choice, pattern selection and how to use a variety of basic sewing tools.
Coursework will cover apparel alterations, traditional tailoring, and sewing tools. Our students learn different types of measuring instruments allow seamstresses to take very specific measurements. For example, using a regular measuring tape for body measurements, but often use short rulers to mark buttonhole spacing and clothing hem-lengths on fabric. Special rulers, such as a French curve, help tailors make alteration adjustments on angled seam lines.
Other essential tools that seamstresses must learn to use include sewing machines, sergers, cutting tools and other sewing notions. Sewing machines allow students to quickly sew pieces of fabric together to make custom designed outfits, whereas sergers bind fabric edges to prevent the fabric seam from fraying. Cutting tools, such as scissors and trimming shears, are used to cut fabric, trim loose threads and to make special alteration cuts. Sewing notions include hand-sewing needles, thimbles, thread, safety pins, straight pins and almost any other small, non-mechanical sewing tool.
After receiving initial training and gaining a few years of experience, seamstresses often have to choose a business strategy of either working with an established tailor company, starting a seamstress business of their own, or creating a cooperative economic business with several seamstresses. These additional business strategies and skills are also being taught to our students.
It is first important to define what a business is before we discuss how to manage one. During the business training, all our discussions will tie back to this definition of business:
'An organization of one or more people providing goods or services for the benefit of customers and the community. '
Notice that our definition does not include profit. This is an important point. Some businesses do generate profit but there are several others (government, education and non-profits) that provide valuable goods and services for no profit. Without these organizations, societies throughout the world would not function. The principles in this series will apply to all businesses since, fundamentally, they all serve a customer.
Another aspect of the definition is the inclusion of community. All businesses impact their community. Businesses create jobs, provide essential services and pay taxes. Without a thriving business base, there is no community. That’s why a business also needs to understand its impact on the community. This course will focus on the business model of Cooperatives.
Cooperative entities are groups of people who come together and run a business like a genuine democracy. All decisions are made as a group of equals. Most countries have specific laws on how to form a legal Cooperative. Although we will also learn about Sole-Proprietorship, Partnerships and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), our primary focus will be forming, organizing and managing a Cooperative. SWOT Analysis will also be taught as a tool of evaluation of self and business.
The main function of this peer group therapy session is to provide survivors with a chance to speak about their problems and issues related to the traumas inflicted on them during the Tutsi genocide. This form of therapy can provide survivors with support and comfort when they’re in a setting with others who are managing similar issues.
These groups empower each other to strengthen their self-confidence and self-esteem, while rebuilding their lives after being controlled by violence. Our students will be introduced to important information about trauma, the principles of trauma- informed practices, and the ways in which trauma and trauma-informed services and supports can impact women’s lives. They will learn about basic values and principles of peer support that are grounded in the experience, research, reflection, and writing of people who have been involved with peer support.
This section also provides information about gender politics and the criminalization of women in the context of trauma. The goal is to provide our students with basic information and resources that will help prepare them to apply a trauma-informed philosophy to their day-to-day peer lives while working with other trauma survivors. These group therapy sessions will at times be supervised by licensed clinicians.
PEER-GROUP THERAPY PROGRAM
Katherine and her nine children and her husband had been living on their farm when the genocide started. People whom they had helped, who were their neighbors, suddenly turned against them and when it was over seven of her children and her husband had been murdered. Somehow, she and two children managed to escape the Hellocaust to a neighboring country. When it was over, she returned, having found her mother, another survivor, and her two children; but everything else was gone. They had nothing, no place to live, no money, nothing, like so many others; today, she lives in one of the reconciliation villages with what remains of her family.