This month, TWB, together with AsOne, started a bakery training in Kagina, Kamonyi district in the South of Rwanda. The group is composed of 5 women all living in the same neighborhood.
This week, our trainer on the site took some time to sit with one of the trainees, Hadidja Esperance, and hear from her what it feels like to be in this training.
Hadidja, together with other women in this group, used to gain their living through pottery. Life was hard for her and her family to meet their basic needs, but now that she has joined this training she hopes that her life is going to change.
She said, “You can’t feel how I feel to be doing baking as a business, I used to do pottery but with no gains, but now I’m baking and eating nutritious breads; it’s so great.”
She continued by explaining that she used make so many vases and then wait for a long time for people to come and buy them, but now she is happy that she will make breads that are needed in the community and people will eat them right after being baked.
“My children will eat breads and improve their health, I will make money out of breads and my whole community will benefit… but when I was doing pottery, it was just survival, not living,” she continued.
The story of Hadidja is very much in common with most of the women TWB is working with. Many of them used to be street vendors and worked for daily surviving with no hope for tomorrow. They never used to make savings for future needs like health insurance or children’s school fees. For TWB, as a social enterprise, we feel that those people are most in need of our program and we have seen a great impact over the last two years.
We believe that one can advance from street vending to supermarket supplier and storefront management. And as Hadidja says, one can come from pottery to bakery.
Historical note: Potters in Rwanda tend to be among the poorest and most vulnerable—most potters belong to the Twa tribe, which makes up less than 1% of the Rwandan population and which has historically been marginalized. The craft of pottery, while highly respected in many western societies, does not necessarily hold the same esteem in Rwanda.