Jyambere Mutegarugori means Women in Development in Kinyarwandan, the official language of Rwanda. This group of 93 women is located in the western Rwandan village of Muramba, an area gravely affected by the genocide of 1994. Many of the women involved with Jyambere Mutegarugori are widows, having lost their husbands and other family members during the violence in Rwanda. Most are the sole income earners in their households. Having a place to come together, support each other, and provide for their families has made a valuable impact on their lives.
The income generation project was started by an enterprising priest who was assigned to the Muramban diocese. During the genocide, 34 of 36 of its local priests were killed, and Muramba's Nyondo diocese went without a priest for 6 years. Father Musinguzi John Bosco, a young Ugandan seminary graduate and engineer, felt a calling to serve the people of Rwanda, and was assigned to Muramba in 2000. The people of Muramba were suffering from poverty, the effects of war, and HIV/AIDS. Father Musinguzi reached out to the international community for help in finding solutions.
Among the projects that were started by the diocese were several income generation projects for the widows, including the Jyambere Mutegarugori basket cooperative. In addition to the cooperative, a vocational school, wells providing clean water, an orphanage, and an AIDS education program were built with the help of the Kolping Society in Germany and Engineers without Borders in the U.S.
Serrv has worked with the women of Jyambere Mutegarugori since 2006, supporting their efforts to rebuild their lives by purchasing their distinctive Rwandan baskets and providing them with a needed source of income.
Meet an artisan who works with Jyambere Mutegarugori (printable PDF):