I am Nyota and I live in Bukavu, in Democratic Republic of the Congo. In 2010 the Ek’abana Centre helped me and my family paying the school fee for Aganze, one of my children. Ek’abana supported Aganze throughout the whole primary school cycle.

My husband has been unemployed for over 15 years due to his precarious health conditions. During these years  I cultivated a small piece of land and ran a small business, I was selling flours in the street. Nonetheless, I could barely earn enough money to feed my family and paying the school fees was almost impossible.

However, last year, while I was attending a training course for Mai-Mihogo’s parents, my life has changed. The teacher taught us how to weave shopping bags (in Kiswahili these bags are called “bikapo”), to earn some extra money and, at the same time, fight against degradation and pollution. In fact, plastic bags are very popular in Bukavu but many people throw them everywhere, along the streets, in the water drains, and most of this waste ends up in the Lake Kivu.

I started the course with other 18 women. At first, I had difficult time learning, but then I really got all the tricks and now I can produce up to 5 bikapos a week.

I was good at this and I really wanted to start my own business. Thanks to MU.SO (a sort of a solidarity project in the community) I could borrow 30$ for buying the material and start producing bikapo independently. I could not do all this work by myself, so I involved some “single mothers” and together we produce bags and we sell them at the market.

Now I can support my family. Two of my children are in primary school, another attends the high school and the last one goes to university. Thanks to the money I started earning I also managed to enlarge my flour business and I bought two goats that give me milk and young goats to sell at the market.

These aids are essential to help people and improve their lives. Training courses like these allow many women to empower themselves and have economic independence. I want to thank the Ek’abana Centre for their great support which gave my family a major improvement of our life conditions. It also allowed me to be more active in my community, in fact now I teach other mothers the art of making bikapos.

 

Traslated by Lucia Di Stefano

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