Gavin Sword KF9 Rwanda

There is a TV show that profiles treacherous jobs around the world, the episode i recall was one about Alaskan King Crab Fishermen.  These brave men (typically) work night and day in stormy seas on slippery decks in frigid waters.  The ships are rocking violently with waves crashing over the decks – death just a misstep away.

Here in Rwanda on my drive to work each day, I see women who are employed as Street Sweepers doing a job that rivals the dangers faced by the men on these Alaskan ships.  Working from dawn til dusk, these intrepid souls stand ON THE HIGHWAY with cars zooming past at 50+ miles per hour, sweeping the debris and dust from the road with meticulous care.  There are no pylons or barriers, no “Caution” signs, no “Slow Down – Sweepers at Work” signs.

Most drivers that I’ve seen do not even give any special wide berth to these courageous workers, they are missed by inches – not feet, by cars and trucks speeding to and fro.  These women truly have nerves of steel – and the pay for this work, I have heard, is the equivalent of $US70/month.  It is hard to grasp this number – they work 6 days per week, so that is approximately $3 per day.  Adjusted for pay vs. danger – i have to say that I think these women win the title of the “World’s Most Dangerous Job” hands down.  (I don’t recall the exact pay for the Alaskan King Crab Fishermen, but I do know that it was considerably more than $3/day).

Regardless, I am told that these jobs are actually sought after.  In a country with nearly 30% unemployment, it is still a job – and it allows them to feed their families or at least to contribute to the effort.  Menial jobs are common in Rwanda -  street sweeping, grass cutting  (with rudimentary instruments) or cleaning people work grueling hours for subsistence pay.  It is no wonder that so many Rwandans opt for self employment through borrowing from MFI’s like Vision Finance.

Kiva borrowers in Rwanda may not be making large profits each month but most make far more than $70, they have some control over their destinies and their jobs are generally not vying for the “World’s Most Dangerous” title.  I have learned that the options for employment in Rwanda are severely limited and whatever your perspective on microfinance, it offers other alternatives for employment in a country that desperately needs more options.

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