10 (Xinhua) -- For months, Louise Dushimirimana and
her fellow Burundian refugees at Mahama camp have been making
handicrafts, a little initiative to reduce dependence on
On Thursday, Dushimirimana and her
colleagues felt their efforts were being recognized.
In stepping up efforts to make the
Burundian refugees self reliant, the Rwandan Government and the
UN refugee agency (UNHCR) Thursday inaugurated a business
facility for them.
The facility worth 400,000 U.S.
dollars will help women and girls with handicraft skills to make
various products for sale.
The Rwandan Government and UNHCR
strategy aims to empower refugees to stand on their own feet
rather than depending on humanitarian assistance over times.
Dushimirimana said that the facility
will enable them to produce more handcrafts products and to
teach other refugees the life skills.
Jacqueline Murorunkwere, is another
refugee, and the social affairs representative of refugees in
She said in addition to promoting
livelihoods, the center will also enhance mutual partnership and
cooperation between stakeholders to prevent sexual and
gender-based violence in the camp.
“Refugee women are often victims of
violence and discrimination. This new facility will
contribute to refugees supporting each other to resolve
their problems, strengthen their resilience and become
self-reliant, as well as preventing sexual and gender-based
violence in households,” she said.
The mother of three said even when
life is not easy for women refugees, the inauguration of the
facility was an encouragement to develop oneself, earn
livelihoods, and make life worth living.
In the new center, women working in
cooperatives are paid for producing high quality, modern design
handicrafts which are exported and marketed in the United
States, as well as school uniforms.
Through such market-based livelihoods
initiatives, refugees are empowered to contribute not only to
the economy of the refugee camp, but also to the development of
Rwanda and its economy, officials noted.
“Today we were reminded that nothing
should stop us from aiming higher in life. Personally,
nothing will prohibit me from developing my family, the
country that is hosting me, and participating in searching
for peace in Burundi,” added Murorunkwere.
Mahama refugee camp opened in April
2015 following the influx of Burundian refugees. Today it is
home to 53,000 refugees.
Saber Azam UNHCR Rwanda country
representative, said while female refugees may sometimes face
vulnerabilities they are also normal citizens of the world, and
nothing should stop them from dreaming big, participating in
building peace in the camp but also for the future when they
shall have returned to their country.
“This opportunity centre is among the
best things we can do to support refugee women in the camp,
which is also critical to building gender equality among the
community,” he said.
Rwanda’s minister of refugees affairs
Seraphine Mukantabana said that the center will open doors to
skilled women to benefit from their skills instead of folding
hands to wait for handouts.