Leocadie’s story of change

Women know how to take a leading role even in the hardest conditions.

Leocadie lives in Rwanda. She has had to bring up her five children by herself, unemployed and without a plot of land to cultivate.

Leocadie had no possessions, not even a room to live in. She moved her family from one house to the next. In order to pay the rent and feed her children, poverty forced Leocadie into prostitution. In such a precarious condition and without food, clothes or a school to go to, her children were continuously exposed to violence and abuse.

While living in the town of Nyamiyaga, in the north of Rwanda, local authorities asked AVSI to send out a social worker to pay Leocadie and her family a visit. This would prove to be a herald of change.

At first Leocadie was too distressed to believe that anything could be different, but when her daughter Diana was taken in as part of AVSI’s program we support, Leocadie started getting involved. She attended AVSI’s meetings on the value of life. Thanks to the individual and group psycho-social counseling she received through our program, Leocadie began showing signs of wanting to change her behavior and her approach to life.

The turning point came when Leocadie rose up to the challenge of starting her own income-generating activity. Attending AVSI’s courses, she learned the basics of accounting and finance, as well as some selling techniques. Eventually, she was able to raise the budget she needed to start selling fruit.

With passion and great determination, Leocadie has managed to make her activity flourish and send her children to school.

Leocadie has also turned to helping her community. Today, she is part of the group of parents that help AVSI’s social workers raise awareness. Through her experience, she is spreading the word: it is possible to take care of oneself. This is the very seed of change.


With education, trust and determination, women in developing countries can be empowered to bring about change in their lives and in the lives of their families.