The Covid-19 pandemic has deeply impacted every sector of work in every corner of the world. As expected, the women at DuHope were also affected. Although they were faced with financial uncertainty and disrupted daily routines, the support DuHope had given them placed them in a position where they felt confident and capable enough to take charge of their income earning.
During the lockdowns put in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19, DuHope was not able to secure enough sales to pay the women to the level they were used to. The lockdown sent them home, unable to leave for work that was not considered essential and unable to earn the level of income they had become accustomed to. One of their biggest worries at the beginning of the lockdown was having enough money to feed their families. However, carrying the confidence and self-love instilled in them by DuHope, many of the women pivoted gracefully into side jobs close to home, using their skills to continue earning money without resorting to sex work.
Suddenly, the women were in a position to help their neighbors, friends, and family. Neighbors who would not have approached them—except to pay for sex—now came to them asking for financial help during the lockdown. Victoria, for instance, started an informal manicure and pedicure service in her neighborhood to earn money. Alphonsine and Francine both had side jobs that were deemed “essential” during the lockdown. Alphonsine has a mobile money business and Francine sells fruit and vegetables
All of the women at DuHope, especially those not able to rely on their own skills to earn enough income, were blessed by a support package from DuHope and food assistance from the Rwandan Government. They also borrowed money from the savings group, which they are currently paying off. Some received unexpected support from friends and family.
Whichever path they came upon during the lockdown, they all met their challenges and emerged from the lockdown season with new perspectives. The lockdown opened their eyes to the reasons behind intentionally saving money, for example. The lockdown also gave them time to spend with their families and connect with distant family over the phone. Despite this challenge time, the women at DuHope persevered as we knew they would.