Disabled people face two major difficulties: the first one is that of their disability and the second of these is poverty. Poverty pushes these people towards begging, especially in urban and semi-urban areas where they go to seek refuge. AIPH (Support for Initiatives for People with Disabilities) is convinced that working is better than begging and thus we try to help find solutions to overcome the poverty affecting disabled people by implementing income generating activities (we currently run sewing and pig/goat farming activities and will soon start fish farming).
- Pig farming by 3 pre-cooperative groups made up of 25 people each: AIPH Umwizero and AIPH Imbere Ni Heza in central Bujumbura and AIPH Hakoramunda in Gihungwe, Bubanza province, on AIPH property.
- We run a high-quality sewing workshop with women and young girls/young mothers. This workshop focuses on African-style women's clothing, this is a difficult type of sewing to master and people from outside of the group come asking us if they can perfect their techniques in our workshop.
- In terms of our farming activities the 75 people in the 3 pre-cooperative groups are actively involved in ensuring the development of their activities. The plan is that when groups are made in the future we will establish true cooperatives with all the associated aspects, notably including offering loans to disabled people (this is why we currently call them 'pre-cooperative groups').
- For our sewing workshop 3 people work on this initiative and we have, on average, 15 people benefitting from these services.
- In terms of our advocacy work the board and the 6-person supervisory committee handle the daily monitoring and implementation of AIPH's activities.
- Handicap International
- The Emmaus Chalon sur Saône friends committee (a member of Emmaus International)
- Emmaus International
- The FAPHB (Federation of Associations for Disabled People in Burundi)
At the beginning our association simply had to show to people that we existed and we counted entirely on the membership fees paid by our members to organise wickerwork, needlework and farming activities as well as to provide support for our members.
The first goal was to give our desperate members some courage back. Every two days we led wickerwork and needlework workshops.
We got financing from Emmaus International for the first time in 2005, allowing us to open the sewing workshop.
More funds were received in 2011 and these helped us to open a shop selling food and a warehouse for drinks. Unfortunately, due to the crisis in the country, these two initiatives did not last. We replaced the shop with a personalised animal farming programme* but unfortunately that proved to be ineffective.
Today, with the financing from the Emmaus Chalon sur Saône friends committee, AIPH is developing a mass farming initiative with our pre-cooperative groups in order to ensure personal empowerment for our members and also to achieve autonomy for our organisation.
(*) animal farming where each person decides which animals to farm, bearing in mind their capacities and skills.
At the international celebration of White Cane on 15 October 2016.
Disabled people and other vulnerable people don't have access to loans - they cannot get loans from institutionalised banks, who target only rich, employed people and who request that lenders have financial guarantors to ensure that they will get their money back. Thus we launched our pre-cooperative groups with the hope of creating affordable micro-finance for people who wish to develop income generating activities of their own.
In the meanwhile the money that the groups have gathered will be used to fund our micro-credit initiatives. We ask our members to follow the practice of SILC (Savings and Internal Lending Community) - a practice where members of a group collectively save money (a small weekly amount) which is then used to finance internal loans for income generating activities, thus avoiding having to resort to other high-interest micro-finance options. All participants can take out a loan, the maximum value of the loan is set at three times the amount they have contributed to the fund
75 people can now see a ray of hope of the horizon - they hope to soon become financially independent. We must also remember that these activities provide visibility to disabled people who were, until quite recently, seen as cursed.
Four people have already stopped begging and have become independent by developing their own income generating activities: one of them exports beer to Congo and three other young girls/mothers sew at home despite the low income gained from this work. This process towards gaining independence is now underway with other people.
- AIPH fights for gender equality by creating income generating activities for disabled people who have no access to loans in order to contribute towards social justice.
- Such social justice must involve advocacy work so that decisions are taken that benefit disabled people and above all to ensure that disabled people can become financially independent. These people currently have no access to loans from institutionalised banks and that is why we have decided to start to offer them loans. In the long term the organisation, with these pre-cooperative groups, will establish a micro-finance programme to offer credit to disabled people and people with low incomes.
Stereotypes are beginning to fall and the image people have of disabled people has changed, they are now a development stakeholder and are now offering services to society.
They participate in social life, in ceremonies - for both happy and sad events - that are actively organised in our society.
The visibility provided to disabled people gives them value and is improving or gradually repairing their damaged dignity. This situation has given back hope to parents who had taken the habit of hiding disabled children.
With the financing from the Emmaus Chalon sur Saône friends committee 3 pre-cooperative groups were launched and a 40m x 25m plot of land was bought, helping us to extend our activities.
However we predict we will soon have 8 more groups (one more in central Bujumbura, one in Rumonge province, two in Ngozi, one in Muyinga, one in Gitega, one in Cankuzo (the poorest province in the country) and in the long term we will have more still.