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Meet Niyobyose, a quick learner and talented visually impaired female

Peninnah Niyobyose became blind when she was born. She stayed in Rusizi district, Giheke sector, and knew no other places. She was so dependent and sometimes her family ignored her and offered little assistance.

“Back in villages, a visually impaired is considered a burden and a curse to the family. I always felt rejected and desperate,” she says.

 That is the life she lived in for more than 26 years until in 2019 when she joined the Masaka Resource Centre for the Blind. (MRCB)

“I learnt about MRCB from a colleague who was visually impaired and had completed training there, he came to see me home and shared testimonies about how the Centre has changed him, he also encouraged me to join,” she says.

At the Centre, visually impaired persons are assisted to restore hope among the beneficiaries by introducing new hands-on skills to them in various disciplines such as Agriculture and Animal husbandry, orientation and mobility, attending to home chores on their own among others.

At the centre, we also learn to socialize with others, visually impaired persons are considered to be harsh because of their past. Because of stigma and a lonely life in the past, a visually persons needs to be reintegrated socially,” she says.

That is the first support she says she received. Besides, she was so fast to learn orientation and mobility skills and combined it with modern agricultural and animal husbandry.

“For the six months I spent at MRCB, I had mastered enough skills that I hoped for a better future, when we graduated I went home and started with rearing small animals and practiced modern farming,” she says.

She acquired the MRCB training thanks to Rwanda Union of the Blind (RUB)’s DREAM project. As part of the project, she acquired a goat upon graduation.

She reared the goat and started planting vegetables in a modern way, I planted cabbages, carrots and used the manure from the goat. The goat delivered and I sold vegetables I used to sell vegetables and sold one goat to buy ships,” she says.

At one point she had 2 goats, two ships and a vegetable garden, she decided to sell them off to start knitting training. She had over 200,000 Rwandan francs from it and enrolled in Ubumwe Training Centre in Rubavu district.

“I started training in knitting and covered the school fees using the funds I had got after selling my small animals and vegetables, learning knitting became easier and I had acquired after two months I started knitting for money while still at the training centre,” she says.

She worked for individuals and could first ask for advance which she used to buy raw materials. The little money she earned helped her survive during the training while acquiring more practical skills.

After graduating, she went back home to Rusizi district where she rented a knitting machine at Rwf 5,000 per day.

“I got a job to knit 50 t-shirts for the GS. Giheke and I used the money to pay for the rented machine, I also used the money to acquire my own machine at Rwf300,000,” she says.

Niyobyose moved her business to Rubavu district, hoping that she could get more clients where she works for a few months. She was offered a job in Kigali to train a business woman in knitting. That was the beginning of 2021.

She could earn 70,000 Rwandan per month from training the business woman. After training her, she got a knitting job for eight months, still earning the same amount.

After eight months of employment, she quit and started own business in Masaka suburb, a few matters from MRCB where she acquired the basics.

“I have my own business. I share the rental space with three other people who are tailors. My life has changed thanks to knitting, I work for individuals but I also knit for business people who win tenders,” she says.

Niyobyose can produce at least 4 t-shirts per day and charges between 4000 Rwandan Francs and 5500 Rwandan Francs. She also knits other sorts of materials such as skirts, hats, scarfs among others.

Much has been achieved 

Niyobyose says that she has achieved a lot ever since she started her business.

“I have acquired a plot of land worth 600,000 and pay school fees for my young sister who is in secondary school, I am also able to cover all expenses on my own. For me, this is a huge achievement for someone who was once considered useless and who had lost hope,” she says, expressing hope for even better life in the future.

“I can’t be thankful enough to RUB and its DREAM project, I don’t know where I would be without their support,” she adds.

“I learned a lot from Niyobyose, she is a good trainer and so friendly, she trained me in knitting and I now have a business thanks to the skills she imparted to me,” said Marie Leontine Mukamisha, a businesswoman in Kigali.

Peninnah Niyobyose became blind at birth. She lived in Rusizi district, Giheke sector, and knew no other places. She was so dependent and sometimes her family ignored her, only offering little support.

“Back in villages, a visually impaired is considered a burden and a curse to the family. I always felt rejected and desperate,” she says.

That is the painful experience she went through for more than 26 years until 2019 when she joined the Masaka Resource Centre for the Blind (MRCB) which helped to build up her independence.

“I learned about MRCB from a friend with visual impairment who had completed training there. He visited me at home and shared testimonies about how the Centre had changed his life, he also encouraged me to join,” she says.

The Centre helps visually impaired persons to build up their independence by introducing new hands-on skills to them in various disciplines such as crop and livestock farming, orientation and mobility, and attending to home chores on their own among others.

The Centre also offers young people with visual impairment an opportunity to socialize with others and overcome stigma.

Niyobyose says she quickly learned orientation and mobility skills which she later combined with modern farming skills back at home.

“For the six months I spent at MRCB, I had mastered enough skills that restored my hope for a better future. When we graduated I went home and started crop and livestock farming,” she says.

She acquired the MRCB training thanks to Rwanda Union of the Blind (RUB)’s DREAM project. As part of the project, she received a goat upon graduation.

She reared the goat and started modern vegetable growing.

She planted cabbages, carrots and applied goat manure in the garden.

When the goats multiplied she sold off some and added income from vegetables to buy sheep.

She would later sell off the animals and a vegetable garden to start a tailoring course at Ubumwe Training Centre in Rubavu district.

She had accumulated Rwf200,000 she used to pay school fees.

“I quickly learned to tailor and after two months I started knitting for money while still at the training center,” she says.

The little money she earned helped her survive during the training course.

After graduating, she went back to Rusizi district where she hired a sewing machine at Rwf 5,000 per day.

“I got a job to knit 50 t-shirts for the GS. Giheke.  I used part of the money to acquire my own machine at Rwf300,000,” she says.

Niyobyose recently moved her business to Rubavu district, hoping to get more clients.

Last year, she was offered a tailoring training job in Kigali from which she earned Rwf70,000 per month.

After eight months of employment, she quit and started her own business in Masaka, Kicukiro district.

“I have my own business. I share the rental space with three other tailors. My life has changed thanks to knitting, I work for individuals and business people who win tenders,” she says.

Niyobyose can produce at least 4 t-shirts per day and charges between Rwf4000 and Rwf5500 each.

She also knits other sorts of materials such as skirts, hats, and scarves among others.

Much achieved

Niyobyose says that she has achieved a lot ever since she started her business.

She has acquired a plot of land worth Rwf600,000.

“Besides catering for my daily needs, I pay school fees for my young sister who is in secondary school. To me, this is a huge achievement for someone who was once considered useless and who had lost hope,” she says.

“I can’t be thankful enough to RUB and its DREAM project, I don’t know where I would be without their support,” she adds.

Marie Leontine Mukamisha, a businesswoman in Kigali said she learned a lot from Niyobyose.

“She is a good trainer and so friendly, she taught me tailoring skills which enabled me to set up a business,” she said.

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