When I met Esperance in Gitarama, Rwanda in September, her children had just arrived home from school. She proudly boasted that all of her seven children had finished primary school. When Esperance enrolled in the FXBVillage program, she was struggling with extreme poverty. The financial support Esperance received during the first year covered her children’s educational expenses, nutritional needs and necessary medical attention.
As a result of business training and seed capital FXB provided her, Esperance now has diversified and reliable sources of income. She has a thriving business rearing goats to sell to local restaurants and grows sufficient produce in her yard not only to adequately feed her family, but also to sell excess to the community. By the end of the three-year FXBVillage program, Esperance’s children were attending school, had proper nutrition and practiced improved hygiene.
Getting children to enroll and remain in school is critical. 124 million children and adolescents have never started school or have dropped out. Approximately 30 million out-of-school children of primary school age live in sub-Saharan Africa. That is why the FXBVillage methodology is committed to ensuring that all school-age children are reintegrated to school by covering the expenses of school uniforms and school fees. External evaluations conducted in an FXBVillage in Burundi from January 2012 to January 2014 revealed that 98.2% of children were still attending school regularly three years after graduation from the FXBVillage program.
But what is the point of operating a school if children have to learn on empty stomachs?
Albina du Boisrouvray, the founder of FXB, pioneered the FXBVillage methodology by building on the work of the late Jonathan Mann. His work on AIDS linked human rights and health issues, argued that sustainable impact in human rights cannot be achieved unless the social and cultural factors that heighten disease risk and prevent people from having essential rights are addressed simultaneously.
The FXBVillage methodology, a proven, three-year holistic program, provides graduated support to families living in extreme poverty to ensure not only access to education, but also to health care, housing, nutrition and the ability to generate their own sustainable income. Over the three years of the program, FXB’s financial support is scaled down as participants increasingly contribute to their families’ nutritional, school and medical costs, and take an active role in building lives of greater self-sufficiency. Currently, FXB is implementing FXBVillages in Mongolia, China, Colombia, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, Rwanda and Uganda.
Poverty and education are inextricably linked and we cannot address one without tackling the other. In addition to participants receiving immediate access to the full range of critical resources, FXB provides training and seed capital to set up and maintain businesses, allowing families to build a sustainable source of income for the long-term. Esperance’s children’s educational gains are sustained by Esperance’s thriving livelihood, as she continues to provide her children with a more hygienic home, food security and a brighter future four years after the FXB program’s end.
Karina Weinstein is Program Director at FXB USA, Inc. Ms. Weinstein holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from Tufts University and a Master in Public Policy from Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government.
This article is a guest post, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Center for Education Innovations.
Photo Credit: FXB International