Meet Rechael, proudly showing us her completed placemat. She has made slow but steady progress all week, and was delighted to be able to move on to working with African fabrics today. Rechael is 33 years old, and comes from Kikigati, in the south of the country on the border with Tanzania. She has 4 children, aged 13, 9, 7 and 2. She has been a widow since 2001 and first tested HIV positive in 2002. She is both a peer educator for people with HIV and Chairperson of one of the widows' groups in her area. Her only source of income at the moment is from growing crops, eating what she needs and selling the rest. She wants to see her children progress onto secondary school, but has no funds at the moment.
And this is Lydia, a photo taken on Wednesday, when she graduated from sewing straight lines on paper to working with the practice fabric. Lydia is also from Kikigati, Chairperson of another widows' group, and also a member of the Mothers' Union, where she teaches women how to care for their families and about sanitation. She is 51, and has been a widow since 1995. She birthed 9 children, of whom 7 are still alive. Four are still in school. Since her husband died, she has been head of the family, and has earned enough from working in the gardens (where she grows sorghum) to support them all, plus two grandchildren. Her main concern at the moment is how to come up with the extra funds for her eldest son to continue in the second year of his program in vocational school, where he is learning building skills. Thankfully there were sufficient funds in the Kitambaa scholarship fund to help him in the short term, and on Monday he will be back in school.