Clementine lives with her husband and four children in a small house made of mud in Kigali, Rwanda.
She used to illegally sell roasted maize on the streets for 400 Rwandan francs (66 cents) a day. The local authorities would chase off the street vendors, urging them to form associations and set up shops for their businesses.
But Clementine did not have money to join an association. Her husband, Jean Marie, is sickly and suffers from regular nose bleeds and a cough. He digs toilet pits for 2000 Rwf ($3.30) every once in a while but can go for months without a job offer. Discouraged, he once abandoned his family for a month.
Clementine was worried abut how her children were going to survive.
“My neighbor used to feed my children when I had nothing to eat until my third born got very ill. When you would apply pressure on his arms or legs, his body would remain indented. The doctors said he had only water in his body.”
The local government paid for the family’s health insurance because Clementine’s family was among the poorest in the community. When her son was diagnosed with kwashiorkor, a form of malnutrition, they were transferred to the health center so they could get at least one meal per day.
Clementine was six months pregnant at that time. She used to spend the whole day at the health center, volunteering to clean so she could take a little food home to her family.
“I had lost all hope. I used to wonder how I was going to give birth to this child, what she would wear or where I would get health insurance. I used to cry to my husband and he would ask me, ‘What do you want me to do as you can see I have no money?’”
When Clementine became part of the Child Survival Program, she was immediately given food supplements because of her condition.
“Life changed after Compassion. My children now have food to eat. The ministry even called a taxicab to take me to the hospital for the delivery of my daughter. And my baby and I were given something to wear.”
In the morning, Clementine prepares breakfast for her family. She washes clothes for her neighbors for 1000 Rwf ($1.65) per family as her oldest daughter prepares lunch. Later in the afternoon, Clementine either puts her baby down for a nap or leaves her with her father and then heads to tailoring classes.
Twelve mothers attend these classes. And in one month, Clementine learned how to sew a shirt and a skirt. She now knows how to make designs on cloth and how to sew elastic onto a dress or a skirt. Her classes end in the evenings, and when she returns home, she looks at her future with eagerness.
“I know I will have a happy life because I have a way to earn money. Compassion has given me hope and faith. Our lives have changed. We are no longer how we used to be!”
This Monday, July 30, 7:00 PM eastern time, we are having a Twitter party with Tanzania blogger Amy Lupold Bair aka Resourceful Mommy! This event will raise awareness for babies and moms worldwide. Please join us!