Mvura nkuvure Cyanzarwe is an association of former participants in sociotherapy, living in Kinyanzovu cell, Cyanzarwe sector in Rubavu district in the Western Province of Rwanda. Sociotherapists recruited thembased on their background of living in conflicts with their partners. Among 15 participants there are three couples (husband and wife) who were participating together in sociotherapy sessions.
After fifteen sessions, group members managed to overcome conflicts between themselves but also between them and their partners as it is expressed in this testimony given by one group member where she said: “We used to think that the only way of socializing with neighbors was to go in local bar every afternoon and it was particularly done by women. We could neither care about our children hygiene nor about cleaning the compound of our homes. Since we were always coming home late in the evenings while drunk, we were always fighting with our husband. But ever since we joined sociotherapy, we discovered how those behaviors have messed up our families and decided to change, we learned that after working in our lands before noon, we can clean the house, ensure the hygiene of children and cater for our sheep.”
They also decided to remain as group and work together in fighting against poverty and strengthening the economy of their families; they started a self-help association with a contribution of 200 RwF every week for saving given by each group member, and they opened an account in SACCO. They also elected a committee to spearhead management of their savings, their future planning and their activities. The committee elected started by encouraging members to borrow money and start small businesses. They ended up attracting a lot of interest from local leaders who wanted them to improve their businesses, and encouraged them to apply for a loan from SACCO-CYANZARWE. They first started by increasing their saving share up to 5000 RwF per month, and applied for a loan worth 1.500.000 RwF, to be paid back in one year. This loan was added on a saving of 400.000 RwF and as they divided the amount among themselves. Each group member managed to start a small business, bought a sheep worth an amount between 20.000 RwF and 30.000 RwF. The reason behind choosing a project of raising sheep was because sheep do not require big space, much time for feeding, and they reproduce in short period as such they can help someone who has been living in poverty.
As group members have been suffering shortage of lands for agriculture activities; they hired a big land for three years and paid 300.000 RwF, where they planted cabbages at the beginning and they are planning to plant sweet potatoes on next round. To diversify investments of the loan they have received, each group member leased a private land where they planted sweet potatoes and beans according to the preference of each and every one. Considering the way their loan was invested and how each group member pays back his/her shares on that loan there a hope that the total amount of loan will be paid in less than one year.
According to testimonies given by group members being in sociotherapy groups has improved their well-being, learning from one another how they are suffering consequences of their past, they managed to overcome hatred between them, their relatives and neighbors. There is no opportunity of raising conflict as each group member is busy using that capital invested to improve their family income as one of them testified: “what I appreciate in this group is that now as I’m doing business of selling vegetables I manage to afford a bag of rice and cook for my family, my husband is pleased with that”.
Other benefits expressed by group members are that they have all opened bank accounts in SACCO, and they are saving money they used to waste in local beers to pay back the loan and future plans affording seeds for their crops, they are now getting their own manure, they are easily paying health insurance for themselves and their children. This group helped them to identify what have been causing of conflicts in their families. Remaining busy in different mentioned activities do not allow them time for conflicting, instead they are reaching out in families still with conflicts and help them using their own experiences.
Story by: Emmanuel Nzabonimpa - Sustainabilty and Evaluation Officer in Rubavu.