The organization involves women and girls in their initiatives present in 11 districts. The beneficiaries of the programs are particularly from rural areas. Next year, the organization intends to relocate its headquarters from Muhanga district to Kigali in Kicukiro district. Moreover, YWCA Muhanga bureau will remain active in order to facilitate programs in Muhanga and neighboring districts.
YWCA Rwanda has three main programs namely Secure livelihoods, Know your rights and Tubane Neza (Living in Harmony), each of the program entails several projects meant to empower women financially, improve nutrition and health etc.
Currently, YWCA has more than 1500 members including volunteers, women, and girls grouped into 77 working groups.
It counts nearly 20,000 beneficiaries, focusing on the most vulnerable Rwandans. This includes:
Women, specifically young women (30 and below)
Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC)
Historically Marginalized People (HMP)
Widows and rural vulnerable women
Giving Hope is among the projects, it is implemented jointly by YWCA and Church World Service (CWS). The project aims to improve the wellbeing of Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC). Since the year 2003, Giving Hope project has supported over 16,000 OVC.
Currently the beneficiaries have been grouped to operate specific initiatives as a way to sustain the progress. YWCA Rwanda also conducts awareness activities meant to educate the public against immoral practices. In this regard, the organization showcases cinemas and skits through their Street Theater program. The aim is to challenge stereotypes and discriminatory attitudes/practices directed against the Historically Marginalized People (HMP).
This particular program is supported by Minority Rights Group International. Another project is PLUVIF, it aim is to promote the rights of women through discouraging gender based violence against women and girls DRC, Burundi and Rwanda.
The project is implemented by COCAFEM / GL in partnership with CECI (Centre for Studies and International Cooperation). The Canadian International Development Agency funds the project. Moreover, COCAFEM / GL works in collaboration with womenís organizations including YWCA. In regard to improving the nutrition and economic empowerment, YWCA implements SASHA (Sweet Potato Action for Security and Health in Africa) project, it is a 5-year initiative designed to improve food security and livelihoods of families in rural areas. Under this program farmers are educated on how to utilize orange sweet potatoes.
The trainings entail making sweet potato programs such as juice, doughnuts, biscuits, cake etc. SASHA project further empowers farmers economically by creating market for their produce. Power to Change is also among YWCA projects aimed at educating young women aged (12-30 years) on women rights, sexual and reproductive health. This program is corresponds with YWCA program meant to support vulnerable women living HIV/AIDS in Muhanga and Ruhango district.
YWCA is implementing the program through partnership with UN Women. The program targets 300 women. Beneficiaries of the program are also trained on Income Generating Activities and Savings and Internal Lending Communities (SILC). Recently (5th December),YWCA Rwanda in partnership with UN Women Regional office based in Kigali celebrated the International AIDS Day in recognition of UN Women support to 300 women LWHIV/AIDS in Muhanga and Ruhango districts.
The one year partnership with UN Women is expected strengthen the amazing work of the YWCA Rwanda which facilitates the effectiveness of socioeconomic empowerment of women and girls living with HIV/AIDS. During the commemoration of world AIDS day themed (Let us set our sights on achieving the ìthree zerosî Zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths), the Vice President of YWCA Therese Mukandoli, encouraged the beneficiaries to strive and achieve their goals no matter their health condition. Her remarks were echoed by YWCA General Secretary Pudentienne Uzamukunda, who added that women who are infected with HIV should ignore criticism and rather focus on improving their lives.
Being infected with HIV doesn’t mean the end of the world, so don’t be discouraged, so far women under this program have seen good results and most of them are now able to cater for their domestic expenses and their health too, said Uzamukunda.
Also at the event, the guest of honor FortunÈe Mukagatana, who is also the vice mayor in charge of Social Affairs in Muhanga district, commended the partnership between UN Women and YWCA Rwanda.
She also insisted that, women who are infected shouldn’t feel hopeless but rather maximize their potentials; also young people have the capability of stopping new infections of HIV.
The representative of UN Women, Mrs Dona Kamashara hailed activities of YWCA Rwanda and their commitment of assiting women living with HIV/AIDS from Muhanga and Ruhango districts.
She encouraged the beneficiaries to pursue their goals. During the event, the beneficiaries were given a donation of Rwf 10,800,000, the amount will be shared in 12 groups consisting of 25 women each from Muhanga and Ruhango districts.
The above programs truly indicate that YWCA is achieving its goals and mission to develop the leadership and collective power of women and girls in Rwanda, to achieve high quality education, health, and socio-economic conditions for themselves, their families, and their communities.