There are several co-operatives and self-help organisations on Idjwi, including UFIN who support the rights and aspirations of the women living in the north of the island.
UFIN is led by Esperance, the wife of the Mwami, who clearly recognises the interdependence between the economic welfare of the family and the number of children in the household. It needs only a short walk along the sandy streets that wind through the villages to understand that the island is full of children and that many families have six, eight or ten or more. Esperance says that often there is not enough money in the family to provide for so many children and that the women increasingly understand the importance of family planning.
In recent months UFIN has started a program to increase the awareness of how family planning benefits everyone and they are encouraging the women to consider implant contraceptives. The cost of implants is often prohibitive and Kelley and her dance group are campaigning to raise money to provide funds for the women to have an implant.
Luminosity is also helping UFIN with a program to finance the start up of several community businesses. We learned in Mumosho that when groups of women work together to set up a new business they bring benefits to the whole community as well as themselves. We made a video here about the businesses in Mumosho. We are following this approach on Idjwi. Five projects are now up and running and include a group exporting cassava to Bukavu and another group making bread.
We now support these type of programs in three areas – Mumosho, Bewermana and Idjwi – all of which are moving forward successfully.