Flonira Mukamana (43 yrs) holds a tree tomato seedling at the COPAPF cooperative tree tomato nursery in Kinigi sector, Musanze District, Northern Rwanda. Flonira joined the cooperative in 2009 and is now the Project Community Facilitator. Before joining the cooperative she was a widow earning only 500 francs a day to support her 4 children. Since joining the cooperative she has earned enough money to renovate her house, grow her own tree tomato plantation and send her son to China for his studies. In doing this she has broken perceptions of women in her community who are now valued and respected for their contributions to the household.
“My husband was shot by the infiltrators after they came into our community. After the war finished we moved back home.
“Women had no voice in this community. They had no right to join other women.
“He [son] said that he won the scholarship but that he needed 1 million for the flight to China. I requested a loan from the cooperative. I paid for his flight. I even took him to the airport and I felt really proud. Now my eldest son is doing studies in China directly because of the cooperative.
“They [men] saw us being self reliant bringing home money, bringing sugar for porridge, they have really changed their mindset on women. The coop has changed womens lives in this community.”