As Strong as their Spirits

Monitoring visits with trainees in an IOM skills development programme in Rwanda’s Ngororero District revealed that many were going for long stretches of time without food. Acting on this feedback, the mission added a health and nutrition component to ensure trainees are well-nourished and able to focus on learning new trades.

Nadine* spills into the cafeteria with other welding students. She is one of only a handful of women in a welding class offered by IOM Rwanda’s skills development programme and she was determined to work even harder than her male colleagues.

This morning had been tough. She had barely made it on time after getting her three children to school. Her muscles ached from hours of lifting heavy machinery. But in the cafeteria, as soon as Nadine started eating, she could feel her strength restored.

Like Nadine, most of the trainees in the skills development programme come from vulnerable families in Ngororero District, where floods and landslides in 2015 destroyed homes and farm land in the area.

As part of the IOM programme, field officers make weekly visits to training sites. In addition to asking about the course work, the officers also ask trainees about the challenges they face at home. It was during these monitoring visits that lack of food was identified as a major problem. Indeed, many of the trainees had nothing to eat all day. The IOM mission decided that they should start offering lunch to their trainees and began serving daily meals.

Almost immediately, field officers and trainers observed a dramatic change among the trainees: They appeared healthier, stronger and more energetic. They arrived at work happier and kept up their attendance. One woman told a field officer it was easier for her to feed her children now that she no longer worried about feeding herself. Trainers also confirmed that trainees’ concentration had improved and they were absorbing skills better during the training sessions.

"By collecting feedback on trainees’ living conditions, we helped ensure their bodies are as strong as their spirits," notes an IOM trainer.