Empowering Farmers with Hearing Impairments in Rwanda

Rebecca is a participant of World Jewish Relief's ENABLE programme in Rwanda, run in partnership with UNM and SACCA. From a young age she has overcome many challenges and, with support from the programme, has been able to grow into a strong and determined woman. 

At the age of just five, Rebecca faced two challenges that would affect her life forever. First, she lost her hearing and then within the same year she sadly lost her father.

When Rebecca turned eleven a Catholic nun supported her to join the Butare School for Children with Hearing Impairments, where she was taught official sign language, as well as how to read and write. Rebecca was also able to learn how to read lips when others speak Kinyarwanda, which is the official language of Rwanda.

Her bright future was cut short when her school sponsorship finished, as her mother could not afford to pay her school fees. Rebecca had to return home, where she later got married and spent her days taking care of her children and farming a small plot of land to grow food for her family.

ENABLE is committed to identifying potential participants with hearing impairments in Musha, a sector in Rwanda, which at first proved to be a challenging task. Whilst at the Jehovah Witnesses Church in Musha, which is known to attract churchgoers with hearing impairments, ENABLE’s sign language interpreter met Rebecca. At the time she was 32, and married with two children. Rebecca explained that she knew many people with hearing impairments in the community and immediately agreed to become the liaison person, a role that fulfilled her desire to keep on learning.

Unfortunately, everything had to be put on hold when a strict lockdown was introduced in April 2020. However, by July, interactions resumed.  With Rebecca’s help, a group of nine farmers has since been formed and the team has obtained a plot of land to grow maize and potatoes. The group have made remarkable progress, taking great care of their plots and demonstrating a strong team spirit.

Everybody within the group agrees that Rebecca has been instrumental to their success. Through her role Rebecca has been able to strengthen her leadership skills and her self-confidence has grown. When she had to drop out of school, she never imagined it would be possible for her to lead a group of her peers to become agricultural entrepreneurs.

Rebecca

Rebecca told us: 

It is really special what you are doing for us as your support helped us work with courage. You showed us love and care, and you brought us together as a team. We, people who are deaf, can do all the activities that others can, in farming and other areas of life. Thanks to the project, we now know that

To learn more about the work we do creating opportunities through our livelihoods programmes, click here.

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