Mary Gentille

My name is Mary Gentille NYIRANSENGIMANA, and I am from Muhanga district, Kiyumba sector. I was 12 years old when I completed my primary studies in 2000. I did not have the means to continue my studies at the secondary level because my family was too poor to afford secondary studies. I have so far done the following things:

In 2002, I started growing beans. I started with a handful of bean seeds, and I harvested about 3 kilos that I sold at seven hundred and fifty Rwandan francs ($1.15). I then bought a rabbit for two hundred Rwandan francs ($0.31) and used the remaining money in the banana trade. Since I was earning some money from this trade, I managed to buy a hen and later on a pig.

After this, I entered a tontine group where the monthly contribution was six hundred and fifty Rwandan francs ($1.00). I also opened a savings account in Banque Populaire of Nyabikenke in 2004. I started depositing in this account little by little, and eventually I saved sixty thousand Rwandan francs ($92.17). When I tried to get my money from the bank, they refused to give me the money because I was too young and did not have an identity card.

I then decided to study Sewing at CFJ Kiyumba Vocational training School and used the money that I had kept at home to pay my fees, while continuing to save money in my bank account. When I had finished the Sewing studies, I had to borrow a sewing machine.

In 2012, when I got the identity card, I asked for a loan of fifty thousand Rwandan francs ($76.80) from the bank and added it to the money I already had in the bank to buy a sewing machine. Once I paid back the loan in 2011 I started teaching other young girls how to sew. I have so far taught seven girls to sew, and three of them have paid twenty thousand Rwandan francs ($30.72) each as fees. The four others have paid nothing because they are too poor.

Since my activities are aimed at the development of girls, women in my native cell have elected me their development representative. I have grouped them into tontine groups and this has helped them earn some money to improve their beds. We so far have bought 34 bed mattresses, and we have saved for health insurance (mutuelle) and other development activities. I am very happy that I have been able to achieve success with the help of the bank while I was still young and also that I have helped other women and girls unite to develop themselves.