Ideas / Education and Work for Women

My life-changing experience in Rwanda

Meeting women like Brigitte who are empowering the next generation of girls in Rwanda and beyond

As a CARE Ambassador, I recently got to see firsthand the amazing ways that CARE has helped the people of Rwanda transform themselves and their country.

The people I met in Rwanda, the transformations I witnessed, changed my life. A shining example is Brigitte, the thought of whom will stay with me for the rest of my days.

Five years ago, any money Brigitte had came through her husband. She couldn’t buy soap, clothes, or even food for her family without his permission. As a young girl, Brigitte had dreamed of running a farm, but without financial independence this was impossible.

Brigitte Uwababyeyi and Bellamy Young in Rwanda. Photo: Josh Estey/CARE

Today, thanks to a Village Savings and Loan program organized by CARE, Brigitte runs a successful vegetable farm and owns over a thousand chickens harvesting nearly 850 eggs a day, bringing nutrition and health to her community. Brigitte has gained financial freedom, personal confidence, and equality in her marriage.

As a mentor for women in the community and role model for young girls, Brigitte helps educate and empower girls so they can achieve their own dreams, just like she did.

On October 11 we celebrated International Day of the Girl. But we should honor and empower girls every day of the year and continue to promote girls’ empowerment around the world. Together, we can support girls’ dreams, and work to ensure their dreams can become a reality.

Photo: Georgina Goodwin/CARE

There are many women in Rwanda like Brigitte who are empowering the next generation of girls in Rwanda and beyond. Women like Maida, who uses the money from her Village Savings and Loan program to ensure that her 10-year-old daughter Mukeshimana is able to attend school. Women like Odette, who uses the money from her sewing business, funded by a CARE savings and loan program, to employ and mentor the young women in her village. She uses what is left over to pay for her daughter Divine’s education. She’s even saving for when Divine goes to university, an opportunity Odette herself could never have dreamed of.

The success of so many women like Brigitte was a joy to behold, but I wonder what dreams they could have achieved if they had been supported and empowered throughout their lives. That’s why I’m proud to work with CARE as they create opportunities for girls to achieve their dreams from the start.

 

Acclaimed actress and singer Bellamy Young is a CARE Ambassador.

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