Burundi can be a tough place to be a young woman, single mother and widow. Exploitation is sadly prevalent, and poverty forces many into a desperate position of having to beg or sell their bodies to survive. GLO Partner Together for Development (TFD) works tirelessly to change this as they engage with some of the poorest communities, equipping them to lift themselves out of poverty.
For the last few years, they have established pop-up sewing schools to equip women with new skills, giving them a chance to earn a living with dignity and security. As well as teaching sewing, they focus on self-esteem and provide a safe space for groups to share together. These classes have proved extremely popular and are in high demand. In order to care for the women beyond the classes, TFD leader Ephraim dreamed of starting a tailoring business which could employ sewing graduates.
Chantal (pictured above, right, with her daughters) is 38-years old and lives in the city of Bujumbura, with her eight children. Her husband moved abroad to find work to provide for the family, but became stuck, unable to return home.
Chantal sought income anywhere she could think of. She tried to find odd jobs all over the city, but with little to no skills, she couldn’t get any. They would go days without food and some of her children had to drop out of school due to a lack of fees. She was considering selling their house and moving to the countryside where it would be cheaper to live.
When Ephraim heard about Chantal’s ordeal, he saw an open door to implement his vision. He gave her £1400 ($1700) upfront to rent a room in their house for the next five years. He also encouraged Chantal to join the sewing classes and assisted her children with school fees and school materials to return to school. This room has now been established as a small tailoring shop, bringing economic hope, and providing much-needed support to these ladies at risk. Chantal is so grateful to TFD for all they have done for her and her family:
“I felt helpless and was at breaking point with all the problems I had. I almost gave up. But I truly believe
God worked through Ephraim. If it wasn’t for him and his wife, I don’t know where my family and I would
The ladies who took part shared were encouraged to share their own stories of transformation to offer hope to others who may be struggling. One lady described how they had been healed and liberated from emotional and physical wounds:
I got pregnant after I left school to work in Bujumbura as a housemaid. When I returned home pregnant, my life became miserable…I’m no longer ashamed when I meet people, and my mindset has changed as I am now skilled.”
The work of Together for Development is transforming the prospects of hundreds of at-risk people across Burundi. Having established themselves in some of the poorest communities in the nation, they have big dreams for the future to make a profound difference.