On Friday, April 20, Five Talents will host its 2012 Spring Gala at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, MD. Euphemie Karerewa, a trainer with Five Talents' partner in Burundi, Mothers' Union, will deliver a presentation on women's empowerment at the event. Here, we preview Euphemie's talk with a short introductory Q&A. She is pictured below on the left with her colleague, Eugenie.
What is it about microfinance that excites you?
Microfinance excites me because it helps community members to use their own financial means and improve their skills and their life.
Why did you decide to work for Mothers' Union (Five Talents' partner in Burundi)?
It was my pleasure to serve my church, especially the illiterate women and vulnerable people who never got a chance in their childhood to join school because they were from rural areas. I saw that nobody [other] than a member of Mothers' Union could be committed to help these sisters.
What do you like to do when you are not working?
When I am not working at my office, I like to take care of my family and attend my college courses. In my leisure time, I like to watch the Christian TV channel.
Can you tell us a story of success from 2011 about one of the savings group members you work with?
There is a women who, after being trained through the Mothers' Union Literacy and Development Program, began saving money through an Accumulated Savings and Credit Association (ASCA) group. She learned how to initiate a business and understood very well the core business principles. After some months, she applied for a loan from her group and went to hire a sewing machine. Fortunately, she knew how to sew women's clothes. So, every market day, she was able to get customers. After a month, she was able to pay back the loan and pay the interest to the group. After three months, she began to get her own profit that will probably allow her to buy her own sewing machine in the near future. Since that time, her husband has become more confident and started to assist her in sewing activities. Because she can return home with salt or soap, and food for the family, now the husband ...asks her views when it is necessary to spend money. Now the husband doesn't make decisions alone; he consults her.
What is the greatest challenge that you face in your daily work?
The greatest challenge that we face in our daily work is the lack of a vehicle. Before, we had a vehicle but unfortunately it got in an accident. Since that time, it has not been easy to go up country by hiring a vehicle. It is very expensive.
Do you ever get discouraged because of your work?
First of all, I like my work and the community is very cooperative and happy with the work we do together. When I see that they are improving their life by overcoming their poverty, and when my church is also happy with this change, I cannot get discouraged even if the challenges [persist].
What words do you have for the people you will meet in Washington, D.C.?
What I hope to tell the Americans I will meet, first of all, is to thank the Five Talents organization who is providing us with the financial means and material to help our community. We thank you very much. May God bless you. And we hope you can continue to help our country.