It’s a beautiful sunny day here in Kayonza. I am excited about the new excursions lined up on my schedule. For Nayigiki Marceline, a resident of Kabarondo Sector, it’s just another day at the office.
While in the lab, she can’t stop singing. Singing boosts her morale and uplifts her spirit. She counts her blessings and doesn’t take anything for granted. "A lot of people have lost their jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic. I am fortunate to be here and I am doing my best to be as productive as possible."
Before her life changed, Marceline was destitute and vulnerable. In 2012, she saw a great opportunity and grabbed it. Then she started attending a series of training programs, courtesy of Women for Women International. After a successful completion of her most advanced training program in 2016, she landed a job at the Urugo Women’s Opportunity Center. Ever since, she has been working in the center’s dairy production unit.
Marceline’s cattle-keeping background gave her a head-start in her new endeavor. Acquainted with the traditional methods of handling and transforming raw milk into a variety of products, her transition to modern industrial practices was smooth.
She is now an expert in production of yogurt, pasteurized fresh milk and fermented milk. Urugo milk products are packaged in difference sizes to suit the needs of different consumers. The yogurt comes in vanilla and strawberry flavors. These products are distributed in the Eastern Province and Kigali. Plans are underway to make them available in other parts of the country.
In the Rwandan culture, consumption of milk runs deep. Milk’s symbolic and nutritional value is second to none. Today, numerous types of beverages are saturating the market but the milk-drinking culture is here to stay.
At the Urugo Women’s Opportunity Center, Marceline found a secure environment in which women find support, access resources and develop life-changing skills. The center integrates economic transformation and rural development in a space of learning and renewal for women residing in Kayonza area and beyond.
The mother of three is working hard and God is blessing the work of her hands. The skill set developed over the course of her journey is applied in her farming projects elsewhere. Most importantly, she is inspiring girls in her community.
The author is currently visiting all 30 districts of Rwanda. His tour of Kayonza is sponsored by Ikaze Rwanda Tours & Travel, Akagera Rhino Lodge, Imigongo Art Center, Jambo Beach, Ihema View Campsite and Silent Hill Hotel