Women in Rwanda lack access to affordable, quality childcare. The 1994 genocide destroyed for many, the extended family that would have stepped in and looked after the children while the mothers were working. Without someone trustworthy to care for their young children, women are often unable to work and earn money for their family, or an older daughter has to stay at home to look after younger siblings, and miss out on her own schooling. Aspire, Network for Africa’s year-long education and training course, has encountered this problem as its women are distracted from their studies and work by young children who play at their feet and understandably require their attention. Thus, we are opening a workplace nursery to free women to work, knowing that their children are thriving and being cared for in a loving, safe, and engaging environment.
The need for the Aspire workplace nursery
Groups like Aspire are enabling women to make great strides in Rwanda, contributing to its social and economic recovery. However, lack of infrastructure limits development. Sadly, the genocide removed a generation of mothers, grandmothers, and extended family who looked after children while their mothers worked, and who also passed on valuable parenting skills. Women enrolled at Aspire bring their babies who are still breast-feeding with them. Problems arise when older toddlers are present, distracting their mothers from learning and working. Consequently toddlers are sometimes left at home, under the supervision of older siblings – usually girls, who then can’t go to school. This is not a sustainable solution. The children are not being safely cared for; they often don’t eat at all until their mothers get home; their older sisters in charge of caring for them are missing out on school, and so another generation of girls is not being educated.