Muhire Azarias was just four years old when he and his two younger siblings became orphans during the Rwandan genocide. From that day forward they were essentially on their own, living with extended family when they were very young, and then fending for themselves from the time he was 13. School was out of the question as he took odd jobs to be able to support himself, his brother, and sister.
At 18 he began a livelihood training program through Higa Ubeho with the intention of becoming a mechanic, and began to build financial skills. He also received training on internal savings and lending processes. As he succeeded in his training, he was encouraged by program staff to join a savings and lending group comprised of other orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs) his own age. Muhire joined the group and was quickly elected president based on his leadership and financial skills. With the financial support of the savings and lending group, he began to invest in his dream of owning his own business while he continued working as a mechanic.
Today, Muhire works full-time as the owner of a successful convenience store. With the income that he generates, he is able to support himself as well as his younger siblings who are now in school. He has also purchased land and begun construction of a house. But according to Muhire, the best part of his current life is the support he gets from the internal savings and lending group which also functions as a social group. Says Muhire, “Through this group I have a family. I can share my thoughts and not feel lonely. We will stay together and are willing to support each other. No matter what happens, I will not lose faith and I will continue to build my life.”
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