Now I know that I can do great things

Mpore Mwana project has benefited formerly vulnerable girls in Nyabunyegeri, Rubiziri, Bujumbura rural. They now have their own doughnuts business

By Donaig Le Du
Diane, Evelyne, Blandine and Marie (from left to right)  benefitted from the Child Portection Mpore Mwana programme. She now is part of a doughnut business with other formerly vulnerable girls in Nyabunyegeri, Rubiziri, Bujumbura rural
UNICEF Burundi/2020/Le Du
08 April 2020

Diane believes she is 15 now, although she is not quite sure. Her forearms covered in flour, she vigorously kneads the dough while telling us about how starting a doughnuts business has changed her life.

15 years old Diane has benefitted from the Child Portection Mpore Mwana programme. She now is part of a doughnut business with other formerly vulnerable girls in Nyabunyegeri, Rubiziri, Bujumbura rural, Burundi.
UNICEF Burundi/2020/Le Du
15 years old Diane has benefitted from the Child Portection Mpore Mwana programme. She now is part of a doughnut business with other formerly vulnerable girls in Nyabunyegeri, Rubiziri, Bujumbura rural, Burundi.

I was only 10 when my father passed away, before being able to finish the house he was building for the family, she recalls. Since my mother was handicapped and could not work, I had to leave school a find a way to feed my three little sisters and brothers.

Diane Singimana

In this extremely poor neighborhood outside Bujumbura, the only way Diane could possibly earn money was by working in other people’s fields. It was difficult. Diane would work from dawn to dusk tending the rice crops. “Since I was only a child, they would pay me 500 Bif (25 cents) a day, just enough to buy some sweet potatoes for dinner”, she says.

Then, one day on 2018, Diane got a visit that would change her life for the better. A village lady, a member of the local child protection committee, asked her whether she would be tempted to participate in the “Mpore Mwana” programme. She happily agreed, and a few weeks later she was enrolled into cooking and business classes.

There, she met with her now partners in business, Marie, Evelyne and Blandine. The teenage girls all came from a very vulnerable background, having just survived in extremely dire conditions after having to drop out of school.

19 years old Marie has benefited from the Child Portection Mpore Mwana programme. She now is part of a doughnut business with other formerly vulnerable girls in Nyabunyegeri, Rubiziri, Bujumbura rural
UNICEF Burundi/2020/Le Du
“We learned how to make doughnuts, and we also learned about trade”, Marie Gahimbari says enthusiastically.

Upon completion of the course, in May 2019, the girls decided to start their own business. First they started selling doughnuts to the neighbors; then, very quickly, they expanded and became wholesalers: people buy large amounts of biscuits and sell them on the market.

“I have now opened a bank account, proudly says 19 years-old Marie, and I am saving money to buy a piece of land for myself” The other girls, also, dream of buying a piece of land- a major achievement in a country where women traditionally do not have access to land ownership.

Blandine Irakunda and her baby christelle
UNICEF Burundi/2020/Le Du
18 years old Blandine has benefited from the Child Portection Mpore Mwana programme. She now is part of a doughnut business with other formerly vulnerable girls in Nyabunyegeri, Rubiziri, Bujumbura rural, Burundi.

Diane has already rented a field, where she can grow food for the family. She also has started building a house for her family, and she makes sure her little brother and sisters are back in school. “Now I make an average of 10,000 Bif ($ 5,25) a day, she says, so we are well off”.

The third member of the group, 17 years old Evelyne, has also seen her life change dramatically -for the better. “We used to eat only once a day at home, she recalls. I had so little hope for the future, I even thought about taking my own life. Now I can feed the household, and I can even buy clothes for my mum. I am so proud of myself: I know I can do things, and I know I can become a good person”.

While her colleagues are talking, 18 years old Blandine lovingly cuddles Baby Christelle, her month-old daughter. “I was only 15 when I got married, to a 17 years old man, she says. When this programme started, my husband had left me, and I felt very lonely and desperate. Now we are back together, the baby is here, and we are building a life of our own”.

17 years old Evelyne Manirakiza has benefited from the Child Portection Mpore Mwana programme. She now is part of a doughnut business with other formerly vulnerable girls in Nyabunyegeri, Rubiziri, Bujumbura rural.
UNICEF Burundi/2020/Le Du
17 years old Evelyne Manirakiza has benefited from the Child Portection Mpore Mwana programme. She now is part of a doughnut business with other formerly vulnerable girls in Nyabunyegeri, Rubiziri, Bujumbura rural.

We used to eat only once a day at home, she recalls. I had so little hope for the future, I even thought about taking my own life. Now I can feed the household, and I can even buy clothes for my mum. I am so proud of myself: I know I can do things, and I know I can become a good person

Evelyne Manirakiza