Empowering Women

Rabbit / Goat Breeding Project

Two women share their story at the end of this project statement, dont miss what they had to say about the projects impact on their lives.

Project justification:  The rabbit breeding project was borne out of need, need for food security and income for one of Rwanda’s most vulnerable groups, widows and their children.  What we knew was that the government had given these women rabbits in the past, they ate them.  We knew we had to do this differently.  One of Village Makeover’s main objectives is to build communities through building relationships.  A way of accomplishing this objective while advancing the project was to use our "each-one-teach-one" model that we've incorporated into all of our work.

Background:  Cyanika is divided into six cells.  We started our project in the Kabyiniro cell in 2009.  Our in-country team was able to identify the widow who had the most influence within the widow group.

We then met with her and asked her to put a small group together that would follow her lead.  From there the first co-op for breeding rabbits was created.

We used the "each-one-teach-one" method for doing this.  In short the first small group of women were trained in rabbit husbandry, the steps involved in doing that and how to create a cooperative for the breeding and selling of the rabbits.  Each women was obligated to take an active roll in the cell management, breed her rabbits to pass the offspring onto the next widow and teach all that she had been taught.  Working in this way there is an accountability system built in, as the women each have a role that depends on another doing their job.

General findings:   We now have rabbit cooperatives in all six cells in Cyanika. The women have built strong relationships with each other.  They offer each other support, divide the care of the animals and share the profits from the sales.  The women saw their success with the rabbits and it encouraged their desire to expand this program to breeding goats.  Goats have now been incorporated using the same model.

Direct impact:  This can best be told by two women who are in the rabbit/goat cooperatives.

Martha's story:  Three years ago Martha was one of the women trained in rabbit husbandry.  Martha is a 53 year old widow with two children and an additional two orphaned children.  They did not have enough to eat and no money to buy soap or other items for basic hygiene.  Martha weighed only 70 lbs and her self worth was so low that she had not left her house for six months.

Martha is now the project coordinator of the Kabyiniro cooperative.  She now earns an income that she uses to buy soap, sheets, and pay fees and buy books and uniforms to send one of the children to school.  She is able to purchase government health insurance and they eat meat a few times a month.  She now weighs about 110 lbs and feels much stronger and healthier.  Martha feels that one of the greatest benefits besides earning an income is having the social support of the other women in the group.

Mary's story:  Mary is 42.  She still has a husband, but with six of their own children and four others in her care, they were living in extreme poverty.  After receiving the training and joining the rabbit cooperative, Mary has been able to pay to send one of her children to secondary school and pay off her family’s debts.  She has also been able to purchase the national health insurance.  Being a part of the rabbit breeding project has greatly improved her ability to feed her family and improved her own self-worth.

"Poverty was like a darkness" she told Village Makeover's volunteers.  Now with the support of the women in the group she is emerging from that darkness.  She felt isolated and now she feels like she is a part of a larger community.  Her husband now has more respect for her and she is proud to be able to help provide support for her family.