“Working hard as a woman who is committed to save her family is one of my values,” says Jacqueline, who is a mason’s helper at the Village Health Works construction site.
Jacqueline Niyonsaba is 35 years old, a mother of six children, and wife to a very sick husband. She and her family are from Mugara, just down the road from the Village Health Works campus in Kigutu. Before, her husband was the only person earning money for their family, but when he got sick, things became very difficult for their family. They were living in an impossible situation, and their children are starving. Through it all, Jacqueline never lost hope, and always came to VHW on Friday’s to volunteer in different community activities.
One day, Jacqueline heard there would be construction going on at VHW and later, she found out that a contracting company was recruiting people to help the masons during construction activities. Excitingly, she was given a job. Several women in the community discouraged her, telling her that she wouldn’t make it since she’s not a man and construction activities demand lots of physical strength. But Jacqueline didn’t listen to the discouraging voices. She believed she could make it even though she was a woman. The money she earns as a mason’s helper is keeping her family healthy and stable - now, she’s able to feed her family, and can even afford to pay for her six children’s school materials.
“If I had waited for my husband’s recovery, none of us would have survived. Women have to help their husbands and be able to look after their families. They should realize their potential and assume leadership roles in their families.”