Measure of success

Working through the local churchRwanda

Do you dread being asked, ‘what do you do for a living?’

Vedette from the village of Huye, Rwanda doesn’t mind at all. The mother of five has got a good answer: ‘I make clothes for Jesus.’


She poses for photographs with her tape measure draped around her shoulders, a broad smile never leaves her face. She hasn’t always been so cheerful...

Her husband’s salary wasn’t enough to provide for the family. Meanwhile, Vedette was left at home caring for her five children.

‘I have to feed them, give them clothes and pay school fees,’ she says. ‘Some of them were delayed going to school because of our lack of money – I couldn’t afford to do anything. If someone wanted to help me, I could only ask for help like a beggar does.’

‘I told people God was going to work a miracle in Huye and they didn’t believe me. Many people have come to faith because of this work.’

Pastor Innocent

A stitch in time
Her chance to change that came when the local church offered a training course in tailoring. It had been offered by the Rwandan Christian organisation, Association Mwana Ukundwa (AMU), who partner with Tearfund in the country.

Although only midway through her training, Vedette is already making her own clothes as well as taking commissions. Now she has a skill to offer, she doesn’t need to beg for handouts. She shows off the the crisp white shirt she has made, and wears with pride.

‘Dressing in these nice clothes and going to church or market or anywhere – to me it means having dignity,’ she says. ‘I believe that when you dress well, when you have clean clothes, it is like glorifying God – in the community, in the street, even to those people who are not born again.’

WWJW?
There’s another way that Vedette glorifies God: ‘I dress Jesus every day... every day!’ she declares. ‘Because now I always make clothes for the poor. 

‘I have a neighbour who is very poor. The neighbour has a young girl. When I buy a big piece of material and cut it up I remember to use the small leftover pieces to make clothes for that girl, even though I am still only a student.’

Vedette with tape measure inside church sewing school
Vedette, inseparable from her beloved tape measure, at the training school.

The initiative is one of many that local churches have undertaken with AMU. There is vocational training, small savings groups and much more besides.

‘The doors to this church were permanently shut until we opened them on Sunday morning,’ remembers local church minister, Pastor Innocent. Now it is open all week. And the other churches have joined in with this work too! People’s incomes have improved all over the village because of this.

‘I told people God was going to work a miracle in Huye and they didn’t believe me. Many people have come to faith because of this work.’ 

Vedette poses for more photos and takes the tape measure off her shoulders, instead holding it proudly in her hands.‘This tape measure is my future: when I see it, I always remember that I’m making my future – my bright future!’

Please pray
Lift up the nation of Rwanda as it marks the 25th anniversary of the terrible genocide – looking back and planning new ways to move forward as a nation. Thank God for all those who are offering communities fresh ways of escaping poverty, through schemes like the ones in the village of Huye.

Ben Cohen
Ben is Web Editor for Tearfund. This can sometimes feel a bit like being ‘senior hairstylist for…