UBUMWE Women Association
The Ubumwe Women Association, was created by Divine Mutesi as a women's support group whose main mission was to bring immigrant and refugee people together to preserve their cultures, and to pass them along to the next generation—their children who are born here. She envisioned Ubumwe supporting cultural preservation for years to come.
MISSION AND VISION
Ubumwe's mission and vision changed when COVID hit, and Ms. Mutesi focused on aiding refugee and immigrant single parents, because—as a single parent herself—she knew their struggle and understood how much they need extra support to successfully care for their families. They need to be empowered and helped to face multiple challenges. Realizing that they need more support, she pivoted Ubumwe to a mission of empowering immigrant and refugee single parents to learn the skills they need to participate in the local economy, to be self-sufficient, and to flourish for the sake of raising healthy families.
The values that guide Ubumwe include unity (which is what "Ubumwe" means in the Kinyarwandan language) among members of the community, fairness in having opportunities to get basic needs met and to develop necessary skills, respect for others, treating others with dignity, demonstrating empathy to one another, and promoting an environment where everyone is able to empower themselves to create a more secure and stable life.
Ubumwe and its director Divine Mutesi have engaged with communities through relationship building at individual, organizational, and community levels. Ubumwe currently provides connections to funders who can fund rent assistance, and we also make calls and referrals to other services, as well as providing advocacy for clients in the homelessness-prevention system. We accompany them as they go through these changes, and we advocate for them, so that they know that they are not alone.
Ubumwe's unique services include mental health support through case manager-led support groups, holistic whole-person services, and relationships with clients—they consider us not as case managers, but as trusted extended family, and they open up to us and share what they are experiencing. In turn, this trust helps us to remove barriers between them and other necessary services.
Because of this multi-year experience, and what we have learned from it, we have a solid foundation that we can build on to develop a larger program, incorporating the lessons learned to refine and improve our services.