A new Rwandan NGO which helps Rwandese women rebuild their lives in the wake of the Genocide, war and poverty which have shattered their country.
Aspire informs and equips marginalised women with the knowledge, skills, esteem and friendship to become self-sufficient and empowered to change their own lives, thereby improving their families' standard of living and encouraging the foundations for a viable and peaceful society.
By working together, the women of Aspire make their own choices and take control of their future. Aspire's mission is built on the belief that the promotion of human dignity and women's rights will lead to positive sustainable community development and strong and lasting grassroots reconciliation.
Every year Aspire adopts 100 women in Kigali into its training programme. They are divided into working groups of 25-30 and through participation in the twelve month curriculum, which includes rights based education in basic literacy, healthcare and business and skills training and counselling services, the beneficiaries of this programme will be able to read and write, be more aware of their rights and empowered to exercise them, have collected a range of practical skills and built a network of community friendship support.
The women are encouraged to pass these skills to their children and communities – reinforcing these vital lessons to a wider audience. This in itself is self-sustaining and promotes the creation of successful and peaceful communities.
Peace Ruzage founded the Aspire programme in 2007, after she observed idle and frustrated groups of women in her neighbourhood arguing amongst themselves.
Peace spent time talking with her neighbours and discovered the women were bored and marginalised from society, lacking hope for their own and their children's futures. Most of the women were illiterate, uneducated, unskilled widows and single mothers with many children.
Due to disempowerment, impoverishment, lack of awareness of their rights, teamed with the inability to express themselves, they had little chance of changing their circumstances.
Poverty had forced some of the women into prostitution and illegal trading, many were suffering from HIV/AIDs, and were victims of domestic and sexual violence, substance abuse, and violence during the war and Genocide.
Peace assumed the traditional role of 'wise aunty', and offered her veranda as a safe, open area where the women and their children could spend time and socialise. It became a forum for mediation between antagonists. She kick-started an important process, encouraging the women to talk to one another, work, and solve problems together.
Furthermore, the legacy of Rwanda's past has meant that some ethnic tension still exists in parts of the community. This tension can impede positive, local development and reconciliation.
Rooted in her commitment to human dignity, equality and a peaceful future, Peace has successfully brought together women - regardless of their background - to be educated, trained, work and to socialise, thereby promoting cooperation, friendship and reconciliation.
The Aspire women have formed a strong network of friendship and support, they have started sustainable economic activities, and they are increasingly aware of their rights and empowered as a result- all of which sprung from simple dialogue and cooperation.
Network for Africa is advocating for, and financially supporting Aspire so that it can sustain and develop its vital programme empowering vulnerable women of Kigali.