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I don’t beg for a living anymore

Alice fixing a broken pipe

Plan International Rwanda is leading the way in youth economic empowerment, and we are committed to improving young people’s wellbeing, and ensuring that young women and men actively participate in decision-making on issues that affect them at all levels.

We are actively championing the rights of young people, with our support of innovative vocational schemes such as the Hyundai Training Centre for budding auto-mechanics, and support for girls wishing to learn how to be plumbers.

Clad in a dark blue overall, Alice is busy fixing a broken pipe in Kiramuruzi, eastern Province of Rwanda. A study in concentration, she tells her male workmates: “Pass the glue."

Alice, 22, dropped out of school aged just 16 due to an early pregnancy. She was a dejected teenage mother who turned her life around through sheer determination.

“I dropped out of school in 2008. I was hoping to get back to school after giving birth but I never had that chance,” says Alice.

Lack of money and skills, coupled with the responsibility of a child who needed to be raised, Alice found herself beset with problems. Life was a daily struggle.

“I lived in shame, sometimes I would need something but kept quiet as I felt like a burden to my mother.”

In 2012, she was among the youth to be assisted by Plan International Rwanda on vocational training. She chose plumbing, a profession dominated by men. It was not easy due to the stereotyping women face when joining male dominated careers.

“We used to think that girls are not capable, but we later found that girls are able too. Alice has a remarkable capacity and passion in this profession. She never shows any sign of laziness or discomfort in doing what she does,” says Fulgence, Alice’s workmate and former classmate.

Alice says she is now self-reliant thanks to Plan International's support. It is now 7 months since she graduated and things could not be better.

“I take care of my daughter and myself without begging from anyone. I also support my mother. I now have an account in the bank and I have bought 4 pigs that generate more income,” says Alice.

She earns USD 100 from her ventures.

“What matters first is having a profession that can procure me something. I am not complaining as 1 year ago I had nothing, things will get much better. If only Plan International Rwanda could reach more girls.”

Alice is one of 401 youth who have been assisted by Plan International Rwanda through the Promoting African Grassroots Through Education and Skills (PAGES) project.

The youth have graduated in various vocational skills - namely mechanics, plumbing, tailoring, construction and catering.