Graduation day at The Women’s Bakery (TWB) was an incredible experience to witness. It gave a comprehensive perspective of the impact TWB training has on the women’s lives.
When we arrived some of the women were finishing up the preparing and baking of bread for the guests. The ceremony commenced with Aime’s acknowledgements and congratulations to the women for their hard work and earned accomplishment.
Guest Blogger: Courtney Lee, MBA’17, member of the CEL Practicum team consulting with The Women’s Bakery
Several people spoke, including the Pastor from Africa New Life (where the bakery is hosted) and the mayor of the village, but the speech that stood out to me the most was one made by Faith, one of the graduating women. Faith spoke at length about how far she and her classmates have come in a short period of time, how proud they should be that all fifteen women completed the training, and how well equipped they are to provide their communities and families with the nutrition they lack.
The women’s education ranges from illiterate to completing primary school. In just four months, TWB equipped these women with several years’ worth of academic and practical business education. Each of the women received an apron, chef’s hat, and, most importantly, a diploma. Their happiness was priceless. Mama Aisha, a woman who emerged as a leader in her class, shed tears of joy as she admired her diploma. The emotions we observed on graduation day were significant because Rwanda’s culture is such that outward displays of emotion are considered taboo.
The women presented TWB staff with a fruit basket. This is a significant gesture of appreciation as fruit baskets are symbols of major life milestones such as marriage.
Graduation was a meaningful day for the women because TWB provided them with an education that they would not be able to access any other way. It also created an opportunity for them to both earn a higher living wage and provide extremely nutritious bread to their families and communities.
We were honored to witness the impact that TWB had on these women and it makes our consulting work feel all the more worthwhile.