Exhausted by continuous electricity shortages, Marie-Rose decides to go into electrical production
Thanks to the financial support of UNICEF France and UNICEF Belgium, UNICEF Burundi is implementing trainings on electrical production through its partners FIADI and CREOP-jeunes as part of the “Skills4girls” program, in Ruyigi province.
“…I learnt how to make charcoal so that we no longer have to buy this product for cooking at home, especially now that it’s becoming more expensive. Unfortunately, this will not help me when it comes to lighting at home. Charcoal won’t serve as a lamp” she said with a smile.
She is Marie-Rose Emerimana, 21 years old, originally from Ruyigi province, Ruyigi Commune. She is the youngest of a family of 8 children and holds a Highschool diploma. Her dream is to, one day, be a CEO of locally known company.
We are precisely at Sanzu 1 district, Ruyigi commune, where trainings on the transformation of recycled tools into power supply take place. We slowly approach Marie-Rose. Focused, she is following a training which aims to initiate young people into electricity production.
Her desire to learn did not come overnight. In 2021, UNICEF Burundi launched a call for applications for the first female leadership program, "Skills4Girls". 50 adolescent girls, including Marie-Rose, had the opportunity to attend this program thanks to the solidarity groups she was part of. This program aims to support young people by providing them with training that will help them develop their talents in areas traditionally dedicated to men. After being selected for this program, she had the opportunity to be part of the group of young people who make charcoal from agricultural waste, mainly coffee and cassava.
“...Before the training, I had no idea that it was possible to make charcoal from waste, even my family was reluctant at first, until the day I brought home the charcoal I had made, that is when they finally believed me. In fact, my father asked me if I could teach them how to make them so that we can be doing so at home. I accepted, and that day I think we made around 10kgs of charcoal”, said Rose. She added that, at home, they no longer buy charcoal for cooking, since that product has become more and more expensive. For her, this training opened her eyes, and she wishes to do even others to expand her skills.
Today, Marie-Rose is, once again, co-opted to be one of 231 young people, including 203 girls and 28 boys, from different communes in Ruyigi province, who benefit from a series of trainings aimed at transforming recycled electronic tools into power supplies while respecting the environment. This training is organized from March 21 to 31, 2023, as part of the UNICEF “Skills4girls’” program supported financially by UNICEF Belgium and UNICEF France and implemented through partners CREOP-youth (Creation of Opportunities for Youth) and FIADI (Femmes Ingénieures Actives pour le Développement Inclusif).
Marie-Rose will mention that one of the serious challenges Ruyigi province encounters, is electricity shortages. “…sometimes, we spend a whole week without electricity. After the training, I will be able to produce electricity at home, we will no longer bother Regideso”, she mentions with a smile. The same challenge had come up during the previous trainings on the Upshift methodology .
At the end of the training, Marie-Rose hopes to be able to impact her community by bringing her skills to serve the neighborhood. She hopes, for instance, that she will soon be able to repair some of the failures caused by recurrent power cuts, such as burnt cables, without having to resort to REGIDESO technicians.
Through this trainings, Marie-Rose is now convinced that a girl has the opportunity to go into different domains. She now understands that there are no domains reserved only for girls or boys and that the best thing is to be open-minded and willing to learn.
According to Marlene Mpundu, in charge of projects within the FIADI association, these trainings are not usual, and the participants were not very enthusiastic in the first days. “The first days, they thought it was hard, they were afraid to come. But when we started the practice, they were immediately interested. For example, the young people from the first camp that finished the training on April 20, were very happy at the end and even said that they will continue to practice at home”, Marlene said.
These adolescents also learned how to acquire practical skills through self-training through platforms (Facebook, YouTube, etc.) to introduce to their community, innovations in the field of free energy.
Thanks to UNICEF France and UNICEF Belgium funds, a total of 600 adolescents including 450 girls and 150 boys, will benefit from these trainings in different fields that will allow them not only to enhance their chances on the job market but also to have a good personal growth, from challenges observed within the community.
 Upshift is a methodology, centered on the human, which reinforces the capacity in the identification of the challenges experienced and the search for innovative solutions to them (transformation of the challenges into opportunities) for a positive social impact.