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The following appeal letter was sent to our contributors at the end of November, 2011.

Dear Friends of RGFL,

Your generous contributions are bearing fruit beyond our wildest dreams. In this past year we set up mechanisms for the women in the RGFL Butare association to receive grants for a variety of small businesses. These include market stalls, beauty salons, small stores selling basics such as milk and snacks, an outlet for a popular dried fish, bulk buying of staples and reselling at a profit. This has involved a thorough assessment of the capacity of each woman and her desired project, a calculation of a realistic budget, as well as training in establishing a small business. The women are well on their way!

All speak with emotion about how their lives have been transformed now that they are healthy, and how they have been able to put behind them the recurring trauma they experienced after being diagnosed HIV-positive. They feel optimistic about their futures.

The words of Adelie capture what many of the women have told us:

If Gift for Life had not intervened in my life, I would already be dead.

Let us tell you more about Adelie.

After she opened a small shop it almost failed when her customers stopped coming because they learned about her AIDS status. But through the force of her lively personality, she won them back, and eventually they returned, and more. The store, where she sells milk, bread, tea, porridge and some other snacks, was as successful as far as it went. But it was not enough to support her and her children beyond the very basic essentials.

Adelie shared he plans to expand with us: With a fridge she could then sell her drinks cold, sell more milk and stock other perishables – and she would have a competitive edge as hers would be the only store in the area to have one. With some basic furniture and supplies her customers would hang out, making her store even more popular. While she was dreaming these dreams, a fully equipped hair salon next door came up for sale. The hair-dressers would share their profits 50/50, while she managed the business from her shop. RGFL gave her a grant to cover these plans and now Adelie in on the way to dream more dreams that she will be able to fund for herself.

I will keep working hard to ensure the future of my children. I want my children to have security when I pass away. I cannot find the words to thank our benefactors; they gave us back our lives. Only God can repay our debt towards them.

Your contributions have literally transformed the lives of the women in the association in Butare. Because they shared a common story – survivors who are living with AIDS – the women, who did not know each other before joining RGFL, have developed into a supportive, close knit group that stands in for the families they lost to the genocide. The gratitude they express to donors such as you is palpable.
Adelie told us:

I pray to God to bless the contributors because they have made sacrifices for people who were strangers to them, and we know that’s not an easy thing to do.

With the funding RGFL has received from donors such as you over the past years, we are fulfilling the dreams of the women in Butare far beyond what they believed possible. In the coming year we will expand our work on income generation to benefit the rest of the women in the project, those who live in Cyangugu and others who run the cooperative in Ntongwe. At the same time, we will continue to monitor the achievements of all to ensure that we can reach our goal: the economic independence of each woman we support, so that RGFL will be able phase out completely.

Thank you for your continuing support. Sincerely,

Stephanie Urdang
US Coordinator/Volunteer

Laura Tilden
Project Manager/Volunteer

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