Yashyizweho kuri 29 July, 2019 | 11:00

VUP changed livelihood of orphaned duo in Kirehe

When he was still a school-going child, Wellars Hakizimana lost both parents – forcing him to drop out of school so he could take care of himself and his younger brother.Thanks to VUP(Vison Umurenge Program), now life has changed.

Orphaned Hakizimana and his brother lived a miserable life and at one point, were forced to live with family members. “Our mother was the last to pass on. Because we were too young, we had to go to live with relatives, but the situation was not favorable; we decided to go back home and live on our own,” narrates the 19-year-old boy from Rubaya Cell of Mpanga Sector in Kirehe District.

Living alone at home, the duo struggled to get food and meet their basic needs; this made life more complicated. As young boys, Hakizimana says they could not even be able to cultivate their small land to get a small harvest to eat.
However, two years ago, when Hakizimana started working with the Vision 2020 Umurenge Programme (VUP) under the classic Public Works (cPW) category, their livelihoods started changing for the better.

Established in 2008 with the aim of eradicating extreme poverty by the year 2020, VUP is the flagship of Rwanda’s social protection programmes.
According to the 5th Integrated Household Survey (EICV 5), VUP has benefited around 1.5 million people since its inception.

The work involves road expansion and cleaning. Hakizimana says that VUP has given him a lot of working experience as it improved their lives and gave him skills which, he hopes, will help him improve his welfare even when his job with the VUP ends.
He also says his job at VUP has taught him how to save from his small income.
“From my pay, I managed to save money to buy a bicycle and a goat,” he says.
Hakizimana adds that his Rwf40,000 worth bicycle helps him ferry passengers as well as luggage whenever he is not working at the VUP. From this side bicycle’s income, he says he can get around Rwf2,000 per day which he uses to supplement what he earns from VUP.“We also manage to pay casual workers to work on our small land to grow crops and we can now put food on the table unlike in the past when we struggled,” he said. “VUP also helped me buy my clothes and some for my younger brother,” he adds.

He says that the money they get from the project is helpful but stressed that working days are not enough and wishes they could be increased.
His plan is to work hard, save more and invest the money in other income-generating activities.

Mixed experience

Waking up as early as 3:00 am and trekking to arrive at work on time as well as working under scorching sun have been both a challenge and an opportunity for Hakizimana.

He says that working in VUP has offered him an opportunity to acquire working experience and the courage to work hard even when he is required to use more energy.“VUP has inspired me to work hard; a bigger part of what we do is to expand roads and work on the gutter of the road so that they are always clean,” he says.
“The main challenge was that we worked from far, we worked in Nyakabungo. I would wake up at around 3:00am to be at the site at 7:00 am; we would work till midday and I could get back home at 3:00pm,” he says, noting that such challenges have nonetheless brought him opportunities to learn.

He says things are changing now that his younger brother manages to prepare meals, something that gives him time to relax and prepare for work the next day.
According to the findings from the Qualitative evaluation of the VUP safety net component report, beneficiaries reported that their VUP earnings enabled them to meet basic needs and to save for the future, but that the money is not enough to last for the month.

CPW beneficiaries, on the other hand, are the most likely to have other income sources and therefore better prospects for improving their livelihoods and escaping from extreme poverty, largely because of their household characteristics linked to the targeting criteria (particularly age and labor capacity).

Jean d’Amour Mbonyinshuti

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