RWANDA: Young mothers benefit from sewing program
Sewing program helps young mothers gain an education for employment
(MissionNewswire) Don Bosco Technical and Vocational Training School in Rango, in the city of Butare in southern Rwanda, currently offers courses in construction, carpentry, welding and sewing. Each course spans two years of training, and the majority of students in the program are youth who come from vulnerable situations and have been living in poverty. Youth are 17-25 years old, and some are single mothers looking to improve their lives for their children.
The rate of teenage pregnancies in the country has had exponential growth in recent years and is becoming a major obstacle to social and economic development among the poorest populations. Salesians have launched projects to help educate and promote family involvement while also providing skills training so that young mothers can find employment or start a small business, ensuring that they can live in a dignified manner with their children.
Recently, in collaboration with the Salesian Mission Office in Turin, Italy, Salesian missionaries launched a project to purchase 40 sewing machines to train and empower young mothers so they can acquire the skills to start a small business. Launching a modest tailoring or dressmaking shop or a simple sewing workshop can help provide an income for families.
“Providing young mothers an opportunity to learn the skills for employment helps to raise a family out of poverty,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Once working, young women can provide for their families and also ensure that their children are able to have a good start in life and later also gain an education.”
Don Bosco Technical and Vocational Training School was initially established to accommodate young Salesians preparing to become priests, who lived there and attended classes. Now it serves as the site for technical and vocational education for young people, a large number of them coming from poor families. Salesian missionaries have been living and working in the Great Lakes region of Rwanda for more than 50 years providing education and social programs to give youth hope for a brighter future.
After bravely overcoming the trauma of the 1994 genocide, Rwandans looking to transform their country have made remarkable progress. Still, much remains to be done. Close to 39 percent of Rwandans live in poverty, according to the World Bank. Rwanda is a rural, agrarian country with about 35 percent of the population engaged in subsistence agriculture and with some mineral and agro-processing. Many of the country’s orphaned children are the tragic result of a violent civil war. Half of all children drop out of primary school and 2.2 million people—22 percent of the population—face critical food shortages.
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Salesian Missions – Rwanda
UNICEF – Rwanda