Unlocking potentials for mothers in Burundi

When it comes to unlocking potentials and empowering individuals, there are few stronger ways than by wielding the power of the community.

As part of the project implemented by AVSI at the MEO Center, which we support, a savings and credit system was created in conjunction with local community associations. This system enables mothers to improve their living conditions substantially.

One of our success stories is that of Emelyne, resident of Kinama. She is a mother of five with an unemployed husband. Emelyne sells peanuts and mangoes on the road separating Kinama and Cibitoke. Emelyne went through really hard times. “If you only knew how painful it is,” she says, “when you are not even able answer to one of your children’s pleas for some candy. They cannot understand why they have to endure hunger’s pain and these conditions; and you don’t even know if you are all going to live or not.”

Emelyne attended our Savings and Credit course and also learnt how to write and do math. With these simple tools, she was able to take out three loans and boost her activity. Now, she is able to feed her children three times a day and give them everything they need. She even manages to pay the rent.

The impact on Emelyne’s life was not only economic.

Emelyne’s social situation has improved as well. She tells us how, in the past, she would decline neighbors’ invitations and avoided social gatherings because she did not have anything to wear. Now she can have a social life and has even gained her group’s understanding. “I was robbed once, and they gave me a grace period to repay the credit.”

Emelyne was able to regain confidence in herself. Today, she has important plans for the future. She dreams of buying a plot of land and build her own house.

Joining forces with community associations, we have also greatly strengthened the sense of community. Community associations are there for their members, to ensure that families are provided on a daily basis with all types of social support.

This is what happened to Modeste Myavu, a vegetable trader in the small market in Buterere, who found a helping hand in her community group. A widow and mother of five, she had severe problems with her finances. “I contracted debts everywhere”, she told us, “I was always afraid when someone knocked at the door, as I was not able to pay. Now, when I have a problem, I approach my group.”

We are extremely proud of our women’s accomplishments. As Emelyne states, this whole experience gave her “the strength and the will”.


Our goal is to continue empowering individual families to take advantage of their abilities and personal resources.