AVEC programme   -    Savings and Loans Schemes for widows and the disabled around Burundi

 

As a nation, Burundi remains an extremely poor country and the situation is not improving for the majority of the population. Almost half of households, around 4.6million people, do not have enough to eat and more than half of the children have stunted growth because of malnutrition (World Food Programme 2016). There is limited access to clean water, sanitation and less than 5% of the population has electricity. (World Bank 2016)

 

The AVEC Programme continues to help widows in Burundi.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Facilitators from all five districts of Fecabu gather to exchange information, evaluate the work achieved so far and develop a plan for 2019. 

 

 

 

 

Joselyne's visits to the AVECs February 2019

 

There is clear development within the AVEC programme compared to preceding years. Fecabu continues to oversee consolidation and initiation of new projects and

AVEC members remain positive about the savings and loans programmes.

 

1. Kinama, Cibitoke, Carama

All group activities continue, with loans shared amonst their members.

 

 

 

 

Soap manuafacturung continues, but with some difficulties. The soap is a quality product, which requires loans to buy raw materials. It is appreciated by the customers who do buy but sales are low because of the cost. One solutiuon from the members is having a machine to make production quicker and  larger scale to bring down costs.

 

 

2. Rukaramu, Terimbere

 

This group has 24 members and is in its fourth year. They have a community field growing cassava, peanuts and maize and say that they are proud to work cooperatively. One of them is visually impaired and the other memebers are able to give him extra help.

 

 

Harvest has begun and will be complete in early March - it has been a good harvest so far. The field has been rented at 80,000 FBu and the expected return on maize, peanuts and cassava will be 300,000 FBu. They would like to buy this field, which is for sale at 1,500,000 FBu. This would enable them to farm varied crops, producing an income to feed and educate their children. They would need extra financial assistance to make this major purchase.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The peanuts will be ready for harvest very soon. This group presents a real contrast in appearance since the AVEC was set up. They were previously reduced to begging, but now they are cheerful and hopeful.

Things go much better for them at home!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The corn harverst sold so quickly (same day) that the group had to hire a bicycle taxi to transport the crop from the field to the tarmac road.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Initiation of project to sell improved household cooking stoves

 

We are initiating a project to offer improved stoves, burning charcoal or firewood, to all AVEC members. Food can be left to cook safely unattended whilst the women are working in the fields. 

On the day of the launch, we had a stock of 80 stoves to sell, of which only 12 are left. The cost of a stove is 4000, 5000 or 15,000 FBu, depending on size. We would like to make them available to all, but need help with the capital costs.

The stoves also mean selling jobs for young people, who make 500 FBu on each purchase.

 

 

In Karehe, Kayanza, Rango and Gitega, we currently run groups with 238 war widows. More than 70% still live in IDP (internally displaced persons) camps and are very vulnerable. They are grouped into 12 AVECs, attached to local churches.

Here are some individual stories:

 

 

Odette is a woman widowed after being married a very short time, who also lost many of her male relatives. Since then she has also lost her mother and mother-in-law. 

Despite being left all alone, she is now responsible for a group of widows in Karehe. 

Following a loan enabling her to  cook porridge for sale, she now been enabled to run a food shop.

 

 

 

Samuel is part of the Twitezimbere group which has been running for 3 years.

A loan enabled him to open a shop and now to be able even to save some money.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sebastien also belongs to Twitezimbere group and has his own pigs, a field under cultivation and a small shop.

 

There are several members who are in need of emergency aid:

Adele, an elederly widow living alone, who is part of Kinama group  - she is sick and needs the very basics of life. Joselyne was able to visit with a gift of money.

Egide, (see below in the report from Summer 2018) the former facilitator of Rukuramu group, was killed in a road accident at the beginning of February 2019, leaving a widow with 7 children.

Hope and her daughter, deserted by her husband some years ago, are both HIV sufferers in need of help with medical expenses.

 

 

 

Joselyne's visits from Summer/Autumn 2018

 

During August, the members of the Kinama AVEC group shared out the savings put by in the last 8 months, mainly to be used in paying school fees for their children. They have recently increased the amount of money put by each month, forseeing the need to meet such family expenses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The widows of Karehe, Kibumbu and Gacokwe with their pastors

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The widows of these three villages were reunited In September for training in finances and income generation.They have identified products they can trade in such as avocado, tomatoes, vegetables and freshwater fish from the lake and have agreed small loans so that they can make a start, totalling 1 million Burundian francs, shared among 45 widows.

 

 

 

 

An atmosphere of joy among the widows who now have hope that they will be able to support their children.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A trip to the AVEC groups in Rango and Nyabibuye in late September. Bible teaching on the love and power of God, and His care for widows particularly has encouraged these ladies.

 

 

 

 

Testimonies from 2 of these ladies:

 

 

Sylvane has been a war widow since 1996 and still lives at the IDP (internally displaced persons) site. 

"Our AVEC helps us a lot by giving us credit and supports us to pay school fees for our children"

 

 

 

Janviere says:

" I thank the AVEC very much because we widows love and support each other. When we are sick or have a problem, everyone helps.  Other people notice that, and want to join us."

 

 

 

In Rango, there are 3 AVEC groups, composed of 51 widows. A local church leader from Nyabibuye came to join them to encourage them. Almost everyone here lives on IDP sites.  In Nyabibuye itself, there are 82 widows, so the need for support and mentoring is very great. However, agriculture alone is not enough, especially in times of poor harvest.

 

Kayanza district end September 2018

 

 

In Kayanza district, we met assembled leaders, representatives from the 30 local AVECs, from the churches in Mihigo, Bugorore, Kididire, Nzove, Gatsinds, Buye, Kabataha, Gatwe, Butaganda and Murama. They are committed to starting further new groups as the demand for AVEC participation is so high. They report their standard of living has really improved.

 

Rukarama was visited at the beginning of Octber. Some families who received goats a year ago met with us to tell us their success stories:

 

 

 

Aline is a married woman with 3 children. She is trading sweet potatoes at the market, after receiving assistance after the flooding earlier in the year. She can make 10,000 FBu profit per week.

 

(1,000 FBu = £0.43)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dalie is partially sighted. She cannot trade but can raise small livestock and was a recipient of one of the goats.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Egide of Rukaramu raises goats.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jean-Marie has 2 chidren. Having no land and a rented house, he is currently trading in whole rice. With a further small loan, he could pass on the rice sales to his wife, and buy fruit to trade.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emelyne is married with 7 children of whom 3 are in school. She also received assistance after the floods. This has been used to trade in coconuts, to finance the building of a new house which is part-finished - it still needs a roof! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jeannette is married and has 5 children. Following the floods she was given money to buy a single bag of coal. Since then she has been trading and been able also to trade in vegetables as well as raising goats and ducks - she works very hard for her family.

 

 

 

 

 

Serges starting trading in samboussa (a traditional street food) with flood relief money - this now enables him to feed his young family. He is also raising 2 goats.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joselyne reports that her vehicle is now in poor condition, which makes visiting the different provinces really difficult. this last set of trips was managed on motorcycles or using public transport - both hard on her back.

 

 

Joselyne waiting for public transport, as here in an isolated place.

The other major problems she reports are rural poverty despite the hard work of the AVECs and the inability of very poor people to access any treatment for HIV/AIDs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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