In Kinyarwanda turi kumwe means “we are together”. At Gardens for Health, turi kumwe encompasses the ethos of our community and our model. The turi kumwe spirit of our organization has manifested itself in many forms, perhaps most notably in the form of the Turi Kumwe Fund. The Turi Kumwe Fund was started in 2011 by GHI staff who recognized that, while our intervention is designed to provide comprehensive and holistic solutions to malnutrition, vulnerable families will often struggle with challenges beyond what GHI’s core programs are able to address. The Turi Kumwe Fund identifies struggling families facing urgent threats to their health and wellbeing and leverages staff’s own resources and organizational match to provide emergency support.
Last week our team met a family in a particularly difficult situation.
Early Monday morning, a local father came to the GHI farm with his six-week old daughter, Chantal, wrapped in his arms. Facing unimaginable challenges at home, he came to GHI hoping to find some support. Despite the father’s clear love and devotion for his daughter, when we first met Chantal on the farm she was in a bad state. She hadn’t eaten in five hours. With no one available to breastfeed, no money to buy formula, and limited knowledge of alternatives, the situation had become desperate and seemed to verge on hopelessness. In a move that took incredible courage, Chantal’s father did the only thing he could think of, and brought her to us.
Both Chantal’s father and his partner are HIV+. Chantal’s mother has been unable to adequately care for her newborn, and has recently been hospitalized to treat severe mental illness. With four other children, hospital bills to pay, and inconsistent income, Chantal’s father has been doing his best to keep his family afloat.
Within minutes of meeting Chantal and her father, the GHI team rallied together in support of this family. Staff generously donated their own money to pay the mother’s hospital bills, buy appropriate baby formula, and pay for subsequent health visits. Annonciathe, our incredible Health Coordinator, also put together a package of supplies for the family including food, diapers, clothes, a cooking pot, and other important household items.
Each day we’ve checked up on Chantal and her family — visiting them at their home, talking over the phone, or meeting with them at the farm. We continue to identify pressure points and work to find creative solutions together.
It will still be a little while before Chantal is out of the high risk period, but with a community of support behind her and her family there is a lot to be hopeful for. We are already seeing many positive improvements!
It is always humbling to see how strong our community of support is for those in times of need and how turi kumwe spirit continues to be not just an ideal, but a guiding principle of our organization.
As we enter the holiday season, please consider making a donation to GHI to help us support families like Chantal’s and ensure that health is tangible reality for all.