Raising funds in support of community-based initiatives in Rwanda that will advance education, promote gender equality and assist communities to become self sufficient.
Offering the opportunity for Canadians to make a difference in Rwanda through donations of time, skills and money.
Currently our projects focus on improving conditions in post-genocide Rwanda. This green and mountainous east African country has endured a turbulent past.
Most recently in 1994, 800,000 people were killed in the genocide and, like many other countries in Africa, HIV/AIDS, malaria and poverty are a constant. Almost a third of Rwanda’s children are orphans, and too few have access to education beyond the primary level.
Remarkably, against this backdrop of conflict and turmoil, hope is flourishing. Rwanda is rebuilding and reinventing itself, although there are still problems to overcome including a tragic lack of education, particularly for girls, and supporting widows to regain their lives which will transfer into supports for families and whole communities. It is these types of projects which INSPIRE!africa is supporting.
Days for Girls and Tuyjembere Cooperative
Tuyjembere Cooperative was formed by Aspire Rwanda to give the graduates of their program an opportunity to continue to meet, to create community and to engage in projects that could earn income for their families.
There are now 70 members and it has been in operation for 10 years. The Co-op makes a wonderful array of crafts that you can read about elsewhere on this website (How You Can Help Page under Primates A Go-Go). These crafts were the backbone of the African Market at the 2016 fundraiser for INSPIRE!Africa.
Eveline Goodall, a retired social worker and INSPIRE!Africa volunteer, travelled to Rwanda with INSPIRE initially in 2014 where she taught a series of classes on Sexual Health with Ivy Fraser, another INSPIRE volunteer.
We know that many young girls in Third World countries do not finish their schooling. There are many reasons for this, one of which is that they have no adequate way of caring for themselves during their menstrual periods. Days for Girls, an American organization, has created a practical and attractive, washable and reusable fabric menstrual hygiene kit.
Returning in 2016, Eveline trained twelve women from the Cooperative to make these menstrual hygiene kits. As well she taught women’s health and menstruation, part of the Days for Girl's’ mandate. A business plan was then completed to meet the standards and guidelines of the D4G Center in Uganda. The business plan was accepted and Tuyjembere became the first D4G micro-enterprise in Rwanda.
During the May-June 2016 trip, Eveline was able to distribute ninety Days for Girls Kits from Canada to five groups in Rwanda. They were well received by all groups; a Solace Community, a maternity Hospital in Nyamata, a large group at the One Dollar Hostel in Kigali, the Wisdom School in Musenze, and the Tuyjembere Cooperative.
Further in the Fall of 2016, the D4G center in Uganda sent a mentor to work with Tuyjembere in Kigali. Impressed with their skills, Tuyjembere was asked to become a supplier for East Africa. Now it will be possible for travellers and volunteer organizations to pre-order kits before leaving North America and pick the kits up in Kigali for distribution.
Tuyjembere is a combination of two Kinyarwanda words that means “We go Forward Together.” What a great name for a Cooperative.
Another great success story for INSPIRE!Africa.
Primates A Go-Go was established by Merrill Genereux, a long time volunteer of INSPIRE!africa. While on a volunteer trip to Rwanda with INSPIRE!africa in 2012 Merrill was inspired by those affected by the 1994 genocide. Merrill learned that one of the biggest challenges Rwandan artists face is moving beyond the local marketplace and finding alternative channels to sell their products.
Motivated to get involved beyond her volunteer work, Merrill began building Primates A-Go-Go, a company that imports handcrafted Rwandan jewelry accessories, clothing and provides an online platform to reach a wider client base across Canada.
One of its partners is a Rwanda Tuyiembere Cooperative set their own prices guaranteeing fair payment in return for their products. Handmade jewellery, bags and accessories created with Rwandan materials reflect the vibrancy of African colours and the individuality of handmade crafts.
Each item sold assists victims of genocide in Rwanda and goes towards supporting themselves and their families. Proceeds from sales are reinvested in the Cooperative to replenish new merchandise to sell.
These items were a prominent part of the INSPIRE!africa 2016 fundraiser when Merrill and Primates A-Go-Go unveiled the African Market. Proceeds from this sale all went to continuing the financial support of INSPIRE!africa projects in Rwanda. Other proceeds from Primates-A-Go-Go have resulted in the purchase of a water tank in Kigali.
This has made a remarkable difference to the women of the area who now do not have to walk so far to collect clean, potable water for themselves and their families. When asked Merrill explained her motivation, “Nothing speaks to the reasons to support INSPIRE!africa like seeing first hand, where the money raised is going and meeting those people who are directly affected by it. For me, that trip moved me to action. My life has been forever altered by people I have met, places I have gone and things I have experienced. All of which would never have transpired had it not been for that opportunity and the generosity of INSPIRE!africa”.
This well run cooperative has given poor, vulnerable women in Kigali a purpose and a vocation. These women decided to form this Cooperative after meeting at Aspire Rwanda, a skills training program supported by INSPIRE!africa. The handicrafts they make are sold in Canada through PRIMATES A-Go-Go which is an online boutique led by one of our loyal volunteers. The women who make these handicrafts now have the confidence, strength and passion to learn new things and they take pride from their work.
Their President explains, “We started as solitary women. We were lonely and isolated. Some of us were school drop-outs and others were illegal street vendors. We decided to come together and learn skills and the Cooperative was founded”. Their work is colourful, fun and quite simply, wonderful.