Asta* is a graduate of the Homecare Sewing Center in Bujumbura, Burundi. She graduated in 2013 and is using her new skills to change her life, the lives of her family members and other poor women in her community. "My goal when I graduated was to build a house for my mom and now I am building my mom’s home. ... I have this as my priority because the house my mom was in did not have a proper roof so when the rains came the water was everywhere. It was so hard to see my mom and my siblings living in that situation. They could not sleep. I am the only one that can help my family."
Asta, who has lived in poverty, credits the sewing center with helping her turn her life around. “Even though I get very old, I will always come back to this place. I will never forget this place.” She believes it can help other women make the same changes. “I was able to bring one of the students that is about to graduate, Gloria and there are two more orphans that I am referring here. I don’t go to look for them but they come and ask me how did you become such a business girl, where did you go to learn? Because they knew me before I came to the center, they say that wherever you went to study is a blessing. Take us there.”
Asta has big dreams for the future. "In the next five years, I will have a little center like this and I will train widows and orphans like I have been trained. I am praying God to help me have a small center. When I see street kids and street moms I feel very bad. When I see them, I see the picture of me before I came to this place. So in the five years ahead, I want to have a small home where I can take them in and show them the sewing. As this center has lifted me up and given me dignity, I want to lift them up and give them dignity.”
"Before I came to this place people would tell me that I have no value and I have nothing but in this place I found value and dignity. I tell them there is a place that God took me and in this place I found God. ...Many people (referring to visiting teams) who come to that center do not speak our language but they have the same heart as the people who work there. In that place you find love, if you are hungry you are fed, and if you are thirsty you find water."
Asta is doing well as she continues to build her business. She is a faithful encourager to other students in the program, working as an assistant teacher. One of her sewing clients has become her fiance. She is very much looking forward to marriage and smiles gently as she says her fiance is a “very nice guy."
* Not her real name.