Christine’s first motivational success was her own journey. She finished primary school but could not proceed to high school due to lack of resources. She decided to take her future into her own hands and enrolled for a subsidised tailoring course in a nearby training centre. In 2005, she graduated and was fortunate to be able to go to neighbouring DR Congo to venture further with her education.
“I went to DR Congo to study social sciences. When I returned to Rwanda, the training centre where I learnt tailoring offered me a job as a trainer to teach youth who had been sponsored by other development organisations.”
Christine worked at the training centre for four years. She was lucky to be one of the trainers within the centre to be handpicked for a pedagogy Training of Trainers program. This helped enhance the skills she had already learnt on-the-job. “I taught all kinds of people like disabled people who had been injured while on mission with the army and even refugees. With the ambition to grow myself further, I decided to take a risk and quit my job with the dream of starting my own tailoring business.
“Incidentally in 2016, I met a Field Officer from Swisscontact who was looking for craftspeople to help train out-of-school and impoverished youth. After a chat with him and an assessment of my skills, I was selected as a trainer. I was happy with the proposed arrangement as I could still run my business and earn a little money on the side while empowering destitute boys and girls. I was taken through another exciting training course facilitated by the PROMOST project. This training was distinctively different from all the others I had attended before. It was a 10-day session that was handled by an expert who had successfully opened a tailoring business out of Rwanda. He focussed on upgrading our technical skills and emphasised the importance of delivering quality on time,” commented Christine.
The arrangement with the Promoting Market-Oriented Skills Training (PROMOST) in the Great Lakes Region project was clear. Christine, like other trainers, would take up at least two trainees for an apprenticeship program that would run for a year. She would teach them about the tailoring trade from the basics and would build up their skills to be independent tailors in future. In return, Christine would get a small stipend of CHF 36 per trainee per month. The project also gave Christine daily lunch allowances for both her trainees and covered the cost of the resources that would be used during the practical training sessions, e.g. materials, needles and thread.
Christine has been a trainer attached to the PROMOST project for two years now. She has trained four youth in a time frame of two years; two trainees per year and the experience has been nothing but rewarding for her.
“Since it wasn’t my first-time training, and because the learning was allocated enough time, it was a better experience for both the trainees and me. In the other projects I have worked with, training was allocated little time, and I had to rush through my lessons to ensure the trainees get as much knowledge as they could within a short period, say three months. Imagine what I could do in 150 days? Or one year? The first thing I make sure to do when I’m teaching someone from scratch is to approach them, talk to them, and motivate them. Make them love what they are going to do, like pour passion into them. The fact is if they like what they do and are interested in it, they won’t be difficult to teach.”
One of the methods Christine uses to overcome challenges is to follow up consistently with her students during the training period. This gives her a clear indication of personal matters that may affect the trainee’s performance. She continually encourages them to work hard, focus on learning the skill and leave private issues at home.
“I visited my former student, Benelde. I’m very proud of her work, proud that through Swisscontact, I was able to teach her and others. I am happy that she has managed to open her own business and has even started teaching others. She looks happy and content.”
“I taught all my trainees the same practical skills like how to price items using cost estimations. I also showed them how to make the most of even the tiniest leftover pieces, not to waste them but rather get creative in designing something functional that could earn them more money. I often reminded them that their customers must be happy if they wanted repeat business. Therefore, communication was a skill they needed to perfect. Assuming there was an electricity cut and they had a deadline that was about to lapse, they would, for example, communicate to their customers, be honest with them; explaining the current situation, and alert them on the possibility of a delay in delivery.”
Christine’s enterprise, Sunset Dressing, is popular among the locals for making school uniforms. “It may seem monotonous, but it’s good business. Since uniforms are expensive in the shops, I get lots of orders at the beginning of school terms, and that gives me good revenue.”
Without a doubt, Christine practises what she preaches and loves what she does “I think the best part about training others is when we meet, they thank me. It’s fulfilling to be able to change the lives of our youth. I have taken up another trainee this year for free because I genuinely want to help and improve her life, and this is the only way I know how. Seeing my students happy and independent motivates me to keep helping in future.”
Promoting Market-Oriented Skills Training in the Great Lakes Region
PROMOST (Promoting Market-Oriented Skills Training) in the Great Lakes Region is currently in its eighth year of operations. It is about to round up the third phase of the 12-year SDC programme that aims to support the Government of Rwanda’s efforts to improve access to, as well as the quality and relevance of, its TVET system. The project has a regional dimension and has extended its activities to Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. PROMOST is financed by SDC (Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation) and implemented by Swisscontact.