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Diane enrolled at Aspire in 2014. She is 35 years old and lives with her partner and 3 children. Two of her children attended the Aspire childcare centre.

Before joining Aspire, my life was very hard. I stayed at home with my children every day and was very lonely and isolated. I felt depressed, with no hope for the future. I was dependent on my partner and felt useless. My husband thought I was ignorant.

When I started coming to Aspire, my life changed immediately. I met other women and no longer felt lonely. Through the training sessions [on HIV, women’s and children’s rights, hygiene and nutrition and others] I acquired knowledge that helped me resolve my personal problems. In the cookery class, I learned how to cook lots of different dishes, which made my husband proud of me. Community members now come to me for advice about cooking, and ask me to help them cook for special events. I have also planted a kitchen garden to grow fruits and vegetables, and that has helped with our household food security.

My partner and I attended the Aspire training on positive masculinity, and this helped change our relationship. My partner started to listen to me and saw that I had good ideas. He asked me about my future plans and I told him I wanted to start my own shop to help earn money for our family. He was excited about my idea and even loaned me some money to start my business. In the past two months, I have already made a profit of 150,000 Rwandan francs (about CAN$262)! I am also using the hairdressing skills learned at Aspire to earn extra money. I do my neighbours’ hair and earn 20,000 Rwandan francs per month (about CAN$35).

With this money, I have been able to purchase health insurance for myself and my family. I also opened a bank account and started saving money.

Two of my children attended the Aspire childcare centre. They learned a lot and are now better behaved. They are also better nourished because of the meals they received at Aspire.