Jean Claude Uses Carpentry To Build More Than Furniture

“I once felt like my life was dipping into nothing. Today I feel so blessed that I cannot keep it all for myself so I have started a training program for other youth in my community.” – Jean Claude, 2017 Zoe Empowers Rwanda graduate.

Before Zoe Empowers, Jean Claude remembers being so poor that he could not even buy soap to wash himself. He was ridiculed for his body odor and felt very alone. He is the oldest among his siblings — caring for five younger sisters and brothers. Today, all five of them are enrolled in school and his neighbors say, “Wow!”

Soon after he joined a Zoe Empowers empowerment group, Jean Claude was able to learn carpentry skills through a vocational training program. It didn’t take him long to establish his own carpentry business, which then began to flourish. He found himself asking God to show him how he could give back to help other children. It became clear to him that he could begin to conduct carpentry training for other boys in his community.


Carpenter training

John is a young community member who is training under Jean Claude.

Jean Claude started leading carpentry training sessions every morning which continue to impact the lives of others today. The numbers of orders he receives continues to grow to the extent that he can share them with his trainees. His dream is to train a total of 20 employees who will work together and earn a fair wage.

Table saw

Jean Claude in his workshop with his new table-saw and other tools.

Jean Claude says that his best day was when he received carpentry tools through a Zoe Empowers startup grant. Today he is proud to share that he has purchased a table saw that cost $800 USD, becoming the first person in the community to own one. Currently, his profits are $250/month, which he knows will dramatically increase when he puts his new table saw to use.

His trainees refer to him as a role model and they say that they want to be just like him. His identity used to be wrapped up in isolation and poverty, but now his identity is in God and as a leader and mentor to other youth.

380 million children living in extreme poverty will rely on charity forever.

$8 a month can change that.

It only takes $8 a month for three years to bring a child from begging for food as a way to survive to never relying on charity again. How many children’s lives will you change?

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