Dugan Lamoise on BFI’s Women Empowered Project

A $58,350 Rotary Global Grant with BFI and the Rotary Clubs of Del Mar, California and Bujumbura, Burundi was initiated in the Spring of 2019 followed by a recent site visit by Dugan Lamoise, Vice President of Del Mar Rotary, and her husband, Philippe. We are so grateful for this substantial funding to support the expansion of BFI’s Women Empowered Project in Burundi. Learn how the WE program is well-positioned to be highly successful and sustainable, in the following Q&A with Dugan.

What were your overall impressions of the Women Empowerment savings group project? 

All the elements of a successful project are present: an excellent training program for training leaders as well as for participants, an exceptional curriculum well adapted to the participants, a high level of motivation among participants and trainers, early results pointing to an increase in family income, and sustainability. It was clear to me that the youth and women in the program are learning new skills, and are experiencing firsthand how to put what they’ve learned into action. I was impressed with the high caliber of the training leaders, who led by giving just the right amount of support as they integrated techniques to encourage independence.  

In your viewpoint, do you believe the project to be sustainable for the participants after the completion of the project?

A window has been opened for these youth and women, who started with no concept of savings nor taking or making a loan. They have learned a new skill set that they can both use and teach to improve their lives and help their community. Their knowledge is not reversible. True sustainability will be when these participants take the next step and invest again in their groups, or join new ones to continue and expand upon what they have learned. I think there is a high likelihood that this is exactly what will occur.

The WE methodology has a community service component, much like Rotary’s motto of service above self. Can you comment on this aspect of the program from your visit?

It was so touching to see the participants contribute some money to the community service fund. These are people with very little, but they still wanted to build a fund should a child fall ill, an accident happen, or something unforeseen occur. Although the concepts in the training are new to them, the idea of helping your neighbor in a time of need is one that they strongly embrace.

Burundi Friends International

Burundi Friends International (BFI) is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization. We invite you to contact us to volunteer and join in our work to end poverty and create self-sustaining opportunities for Burundi, or donate to support BFI’s mission.