Xavera is the boss of all of us. Her extreme drive makes her one of the hardest working ladies here. Whether it’s sewing bags, organizing and leading meetings, or being Captain of the No.41 football team, Xavera is all business. Growing up in the Noel Orphanage her whole life, she is one of the success stories.
After moving out of the orphanage in 2005, Xavera married her first love, Leo. They rent a house nearby, run a working family farm, multiple small businesses, and raise 3 young children. Xavera’s voice cracks when she talks about No.41. She says it is helping her to resolve many problems at home and she is happy to earn a stable income and be surrounded by her sisters.
Xavera can’t explain how she feels knowing that the bags she sews feed 1,200 students and teachers in her community, but she knows that her children feel so proud of the work she is doing and that means everything to her.
Sweet Vestine is equal parts shy and sassy; there is some onry behind that beautiful grin, to be sure. Vestine is 30-years old, a wife, and mother of two girls. She was born and raised in the same tiny village she still calls home today. Vestine studied in primary school through the sixth grade and opted from there to enter vocational training to study sewing. She studied for one year prior to getting married and two more after before starting a small, home-based business tailoring clothes for her neighbors.
Vestine loves her job at No.41. She was happy to find the women working as a family and thankful to be welcomed in. Sewing new products and learning new techniques, business classes, and meeting many different people have widened her mind. She can’t explain how she feels that her work, which supports her family, also feeds 1,200 students and teachers in her community; it strengthens her and makes her work very hard and happy.
Patrice, though shy and soft-spoken, has a warm and welcoming spirit and just feels….like home. Thirty-year-old Patrice was orphaned during the Genocide in 1994. After spending a portion of her childhood as a refugee in Congo, she returned to Rwanda and lived in a very small, one room house near the orphanage with her sister. Patrice dropped out of school after the sixth grade to help farm food for her small family. She has a five-year-old daughter. Patrice loves No.41 and is so thankful that she is now able to meet her needs for food, clothing and shoes.
It is nearly impossible to run into Geretulde without her trademark smile or a funny face and her enthusiasm and zest of life is contagious. At twenty-seven years old, Geretulde is unmarried with no children. She grew up in an upper-lower class family and studied through the ninth grade. At that time, she and her family decided that it wasn’t in her best interest to continue her studies, because it wasn’t going well, and her time would be better spent helping with family farm and doing general housework. Her mother worked as a tailor and often times Geretulde would sit with and study under her, becoming comfortable with the machine and learning small techniques.
Geretulde loves No.41 so much. She is happy because she has learned many new things, about sewing and about her life. She can’t believe that the work she is doing to support herself also supports 1,200 students and teachers in her community; she says it strengthens her so much and she works happily knowing she helps so many. She wishes her work to be perfect so she can sell even more and feed even more.
Sweet Solange is a woman of many smiles and few words; she is unmarried with no children of her own. At 35 years old, she says she hasn’t had it easy. Solange comes from a very poor family and it was a struggle for her parents to find the money to put her through school. With no jobs to be had, Solange knew she would need to get some training that would help her to find a specialized job, so she entered into a vocational training program for sewing and tailoring; however, once she finished the two-year program she still wasn’t able to find a job and didn’t have the means to start her own business.
Solange says No.41 is an answered prayer; she has learned many new things about sewing, and business, and also her life. Interacting with many different people has widened her mind and she has found money for solving her problems at home.
When asked how she feels about providing food for 1,200 students and teachers everyday, she says it’s not possible to explain. When she came to work at No.41 she was struggling to feed herself and two orphaned children, she couldn’t imagine even feeding one more, so because of that, she has to thank God for doing such miracles through her. She is thankful for customers who buy her bags that support her family and community.
"Before I had No.41 I was having to change jobs and I worked too hard to feed my family, pay my school fees, and pay rent; it was a struggle to survive. When I arrived at No.41 my life changed. I have known more people through No.41, and many people now know me. My brain has been widened, I have learned how to work hard, interact with other people and my English is improving daily.
I want people to know, my dream is to be a professional manager and to help others raise their level of study and improve their lives.Through my work at No.41 my confidence has greatly increased, before I did not know how to interact with people, I did not know what it was to feel confidence around people.
What customers and sponsors are doing for Rwandans is great. Before No.41 in Rwanda, and especially Kanama Catholic, many students did not study or have lunch. Not all students came here just to study, but so they could eat lunch. By buying bags and sponsoring students for lunch, they are doing great great things."