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Helping Rwandan Women Help Themselves: 10th Femmes Développement gala dinner in support of Rwanda

The 10th Femmes Développement gala dinner in support of Rwanda takes place next month.

Rwandan women participating in micro-credit project. Photo Femmes Developpement

Rwandan women participating in micro-credit project. Photo Femmes Developpement



The 10th annual Femmes Développement gala dinner takes place at the Casino 2000 in Mondorf-les-Bains on 15 October.



Luisella Moreschi. Photo - Mike Zenari

Luisella Moreschi. Photo – Mike Zenari

Entrepreneur Luisella Moreschi was naturally apprehensive before her first visit to Rwanda in February 2006. She was travelling to see for herself what was required to help the widows of victims of the genocide that had decimated the country some 12 years earlier. But despite her unease about mosquitos and standards of comfort and hygiene, it was a trip she had to make.

Just 16 months earlier Luisella had been so moved by a meeting with Rwandan priest Abbé Pierre that she decided to help the survivors of the genocide. Abbé Pierre was a survivor himself, and now is the parish priest in Mersch. In the end Luisella had no need to worry about the trip; it simply inspired her to increase her efforts, as co-founder of the Femmes Développement charity, to raise funds and set up programmes to allow the widows to get microcredits.

“It was a poignant and extraordinary experience,” she says of the trip. “I was seized by the beauty of the country, the kindness of people and the dignity of the survivors.”

10th anniversary

She returned to Luxembourg and launched the first major fundraising effort, a charity dinner. “It was immediately a success,” Luisella explains. “We had 120 guests.” The following year the number of guests almost doubled, and now, for its 10th anniversary on 15 October well over 400 people are expected to attend.

“People understand what we do, and we get some really nice sponsors for tombola prizes,” says Luisella. “We are lucky in Luxembourg that people are so generous.” Such has been the success that Luisella was named Rwanda’s honorary consul to Luxembourg.

The association is now organising annual trips to Rwanda for donors so that they can visit the projects that Femmes Développement is supporting. They get to meet the women who have taken out microcredits and are financing their own businesses. An impressive 95% paid back their loans within the 18-month deadline.

“Every euro of their donation is spent in Rwanda”

“It is important to show the people that every euro of their donation is spent in Rwanda. We are all volunteers, so we have no administration fees,” she explains.

Among those who have visited Rwanda are Luxembourg star chef Lea Linster and Xavier Bettel–the prime minister was the MC at the first eight charity dinners, before he took up the leadership of the government, and is an honorary member of Femmes Développement.

The association quickly expanded from raising money for microcredits and university scholarships for students, to financing infrastructure projects such as a school in Nyanza for 1,800 students and a Village d’Enfants. Work is underway to build a health centre–an access road has already been constructed and equipment purchased.

“Our goal has always been to help educate youngsters and enable women, the widows of the genocide, to become literate.”

Former Luxembourg resident Magaly Carroll helps organise the annual gala dinner, which takes a different theme each year and features entertainment in the form of dance and opera excerpts as well as a fashion show. The tombola prizes Luisella mentioned are fabulous, indeed, and include vouchers for top class restaurants, luxury hotel stays and exclusive jewellery. “Word of mouth means we have lots of people reserving in advance.”


SRC: By Duncan Roberts – DELANO

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