Buffalo For Africa Women’s Coalition
In the spring of 2010 a Women’s Coalition was formed. The primary mission of this coalition is to continue to help further the efforts of women in Africa to become independent, monetarily as well as personally. One of the ways this group has begun to help is by purchasing African jewelry directly from the source. With the help of several of our group members, we were able to connect with women in Africa who are making jewelry by hand and had a connection to send the pieces here. (To see some pieces of the jewelry we have for sale please check out our projects page…) We will be selling this jewelry at all of our events and we are also looking for partners who would be willing to help us sell them as well. You can contact any BFA board member for more information. Queries can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are the fantastic women who make up our Women’s Coalition!
Ms. Christine Murekeyisoni, MPH, originally from Rwanda, resettled in the United States in 1998 as a refugee. Upon her arrival, her aim was to complete her education. She therefore entered Buffalo State College in the fall of 1999 and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Forensic Chemistry in December of 2002. Ms. Murekeyisoni did not stop there and ultimately sought to enter the preventive medicine field. Thus, she decided to pursue graduate education in public health and went on to obtain a Master of Public Health (MPH) with a concentration in Epidemiology from the School of Public Health and Health Professions at University at Buffalo. She is currently working as a Project Coordinator at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY, where she works on research studies that focus on breast cancer prevention. Prior to her current position, Ms. Murekeyisoni worked on community-based projects that resulted in the cleanup of a toxic site in a disadvantaged neighborhood in Buffalo, and the replenishment of funding for lead screening among children. She is always passionate about helping others in need, and coming from a developing country, she has a strong desire to further her career in international health and help those living in underserved areas in some parts of Africa. Locally, she enjoys volunteering whenever an opportunity presents itself and time permits.
Claudette Marie Serugendo, who speaks six languages, was born on 6/13/81 in Rwanda. Her father is a Burundian refugee who came to Rwanda when there was a war in Burundi in 1972. Her mom (whom she never met) is Rwandese. She is still hoping to meet her someday if she is still alive. Claudette returned to Rwanda 3 years ago to look for her, but unfortunately was unable to find her.
Claudette left Rwanda during the genocide, traveling to Burundi to stay with her dad’s family, and then the war started there too. From Burundi she traveled to Congo where yet another war started. Forced to go to Tanzania, Claudette entered a refugee camp where she worked for the International Red Cross in the family reunification department. When she went to Tanzania she was separated from her family. They went to Zambia while she went to Tanzania with her Godmother. Afterwards she was blessed to be able to reunite with them. She and her family were blessed to be offered resettlement in USA as refugees. Claudette came to USA in 2001, settling in Houston. In 2002 Claudette was married to Denis Serugendo who also is from Rwanda. Her husband has a Masters degree in business management and he works for Bank of America.
Claudette is an LPN (hoping to go back to school some day to become a nurse practitioner) and works in a nursing home in Williamsville. She has 2 children, a 6 year old daughter Diella and a a 7 month old daughter Deanna.
Both Claudette and her husband came to this country with only few clothes, but now own a home in Cheektowaga and 3 rental duplexes in Buffalo. In her own words she says, “I not wealthy or rich, we work very hard! Life in USA is not easy especially when you don’t have a family here to help. The only family that I have is my dad and my siblings but they are in Houston. Most of my husband’s family are in Belgium, France and Rwanda! I count on friends! I feel so blessed and I thank God everyday that I did not get killed in war. I can make a difference in the world.” Indeed she can!
Jeanette, one of the wonderful jewelry suppliers we are so fortunate to work with!
In her own words, Jeanette Kantengwa tells us about herself:
Jeanette Kantengwa is a widow of the genocide who tries to manage to pay for the education of her four children. When she learned that there were Belgian women who offered courses to make paper beads in Kigali, she sent her little sister and little brother to learn the art. After, they came back to teach her. When they got used to making the beads, they began to make necklaces. Her brother and sister make the beads and she makes the necklaces. Their family business began four years ago. and allowed a bright future. Madeleine Mukantagara helps her sell them in Germany, because the local market began to be less supported. The help to enter the American Market will be appreciated.
This woman is not selfish because she teaches this to other women that want to learn and win their lives. She lives in Kigali/ Gikondo.