An Initiative Lifting Widows and Orphans above Subsistence
Grassroots development depends heavily on the quality of the ground in which it plants its seeds. Leaders as well as beneficiaries, must have the vision to value seeds, to nurture seedlings and to develop forests that will last generations. Rwanda has such vision, born from 20 years of rebuilding itself from complete devastation and healing itself from immeasurable grief after its horrific genocide. They focused resources on justice, security, healthcare and education until these were systematically established throughout the country. In more recent years they build economic development and determinedly push it down to the poor. Developers with seeds are more welcome there than those with products.
ICO’s Rwanda initiative began in 2009 with an objective of lifting widows raising children above subsistence living. We designed a system of rehabilitating their dilapidated houses so as to protect them from prevalent sickness and reduce their hard labor. Recognizing the empowerment that comes to a whole family through education of even one, we soon began to sponsor and mentor orphan kids to attend secondary boarding school. Sustained empowerment, however, requires that the improved health and education they achieve can be productive and this asks for technology transfer and skills training. Incorporated into each of our projects is the evolution of its business potential for our beneficiaries. Below we describe several of the initiative’s projects.