We Are Each Other's Harvest
POST BY DANIELLE ALLYN // ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED MARCH 2016
“Even mothers with healthy children want to be part of GHI, because they know that it is a well of skills where you can fetch a lot of knowledge.” (Jeannette Mukamana, Nyacyonga, Gasabo)
“I also encourage mothers who do not know the benefits of vegetables. I used to think that because I ate eggplant, I ate vegetables- but I only ate one type of vegetable. When I see Mamas eating only cabbage, I say, ‘Why don’t you eat carrots? Why don’t you eat sukumawiki [kale]?’ because all of these vegetables are important to the health of our children and our families.” (Beatrice Nyirandikbwimana, Rwaza, Musanze)
“Gashaki is a beautiful place. It is where I live and I couldn’t ask for a better home. My community is like my family… the only motive for doing what I do for my family is love… everyone does what they can, and it is all for the well-being of the family” (Alphonsine Uwamaliya, Gashaki, Musanze)
This year, GHI anticipates partnering with over 2100 families in the Gasabo and Musanze districts of Rwanda. Today, we introduce you to three of the 2,100. These families epitomize the communal harvest spirit of Rwandan agriculture and the “pay it forward” ethos of the holiday season. By choosing to invest in their families and communities, Jeannette Mukamana, Beatrice Nyirandikbwimana, and Alphonsine Uwamaliya informally expand the breadth and scope of GHI’s work. Our program increases food availability, provides nutritional diversity, and promotes household self-sufficiency- a roadmap out of malnutrition for enrolled families. When GHI partners share seeds, a meal, skills, or advice with their neighbors, they extend the boundaries of this roadmap beyond clinic walls, facilitating impact at the periphery of programmatic bandwidth.
Jeannette: Nyacyonga’s Harvest in Open Hearts
“Whether regarding malnutrition [or another issue], I always advise people according to the needs that I see.”
Jeannette is the President of a savings cooperative in Nyacyonga, Gasabo, Rwanda. The cooperative’s model of economic interdependence provides a financial buffer against poverty for contributors. Jeannette attends every meeting, attributing perfect attendance to infallible willpower refined in partnership with GHI. She answers a phone call from her Vice President while preparing lunch for her husband and children and welcoming guests into her home. She couples love and commitment:
“When you love your colleague you will share with them your motivation and commitment. You tell them to do the same as you do.”
Jeannette is not content to allow her knowledge-health, agricultural or otherwise-to stagnate in isolation. Assuming an informal advisory role, her will to share betrays the palpable unity of Nyacyonga.
“Not only with families in the program but within the whole community, mothers are becoming united more than before. Whenever you see a mother who has children who may be malnourished, regardless of whether she was in the program, you know that you have to help her.”
Jeannette’s inclusive approach to community empowers her to exploit her village-level leadership role as an avenue through which to informally scale the knowledge and values reflected in GHI’s holistic approach to health. Formerly resigned to facing personal challenges with solitary willpower, Jeannette now thrives on Nyacyonga’s solidarity, repaying familial and collegial support with empathy, advice, and compassion.
“I used to have problems, I used to think that they were all mine-that no one else had to be informed. But now I choose someone in my family or community and I open my heart to them. I once did not know how to react when people came to share their sadness with me, but now I know that I have to be compassionate, to listen to them and advise them.”
Beatrice: Rwaza’s Harvest in Courage
“The [GHI health and agriculture] trainings taught us how to be confident. Me I used to stay at home. But when people see you going in trainings and answering questions, they see that you have potential. That is how I got involved in leading agriculture trainings in my community. Because of my home garden, I was selected among people in my village to mentor other farm families.”
Beatrice’s admission of past timidity seems unwarranted in the context of her current home and family prosperity. Beatrice is the mother of five beautiful children, ranging in age from two to eleven. Her garden extends beyond the plot of her Rwaza home and includes green pepper, onion, carrots, dodo, and sukumawiki (kale). This season, she harvested enough dodo (indigenous leafy green) seeds to earn her family 50,000 Rwandan Francs (roughly 75 USD) in additional income. She intervenes as a mediator in community conflicts and serves as an ambassador of the benefits of kale- a culturally foreign leafy green for much of Musanze-in her community. Rwaza’s exceptionally rainy climate and steep terrain make local residents particularly vulnerable to soil erosion. Beatrice’s designation as an agricultural mentor affords her a platform to share best practices in soil solidification. When violent October rains threatened the structural integrity of a neighbor’s roof, Beatrice led a coalition of her colleagues in removing unwanted soil and restoring safety. With no time to waste, Beatrice maintains an impeccable work ethic and encourages others- her neighbors and children-to do the same.
“For my kids, I hope they put their steps in mine, to follow what I did, to be courageous and hardworking like I was in my living time. For my community, our President always tells us to be hardworking. I want to be part of that community working for economic development, and when we have achieved it I want to know that I contributed.”
Alphonsine: Gashaki’s Harvest in Perseverance
Located on mountaintops overlooking Rwanda’s Lake Ruhundo, Alphonsine’s hometown of Gashaki hosts no proper market. Once a week, Alphonsine makes a three-hour round-trip journey to Murandi, an adjacent village in northwestern Rwanda, to profit from her home garden surplus. “A few heaps” of dodo earn her about 500 Rwandan Francs (RWF, or $0.75 U.S.), while “many heaps” translate to roughly 1,000 RWF in additional household income.
“We usually lack vegetables here in Gashaki. I do my best to cultivate a lot of vegetables to sell on the market, because not many people cultivate vegetables.”
Alphonsine’s model for her crops- identifying a need and meeting that need- mirrors the way that she approaches life in her family and community. When she observes tension among neighbors, she “cannot feel at peace,” moved instead to intervene to restore security to a community she describes as “like family.” While admitting “I am not an expert like my trainers,” Alphonsine assumes personal responsibility for the well being of other families in Gashaki, taking it upon herself to instruct upon topics from preparing balanced meals to the importance of good listening and communication. Reflecting on lessons from GHI, Alphonsine confesses,
“The good listening and communication lesson changed the way that I treat people. People used to come at my house and I would feel as though they are wasting my time and I would even show it on my face that I am bored, even if they had come to tell me something that was hard for them to share. Now I try to show people that I have changed, that I am now patient with them. Even though it is hard to teach, I try to teach others [about] good listening and communication.”
Alphonsine “does not waste even an hour in a day” and testifies to a foundation in love for her family and its extension, her Gashaki community. Despite recent hardships- the death of household chickens due to a community-wide livestock epidemic and the theft of the family’s collection of rabbits, Alphonsine remains committed to sharing her harvest with her husband, her children, and her neighbors.
“We are never discouraged. Even though they [thieves] take our belongings, we know that we are healthy, we are still alive. We can search for other belongings.”
“Ndetse n’ababyeyi bafite abana bafite ubuzima bwiza baba bashaka kujya muri gahunda ya GHI kuko bazi ko ari isoko y’ubwenge wavomamo ubumenyi butandukanye,” (Jeannette Mukamana, Nyacyonga, Gasabo)
“Ikindi kandi nshishikaza ababyeyi badasobanukiwe n’akamaro k’imboga. Najyaga ntekereza ko kuba ndya intoryi mba nariye imboga- ariko nabaga nariye ubwoko bumwe bw’imboga. Iyo mbonye umubyeyi urya amashu gusa ndamubaza nti kuki utarya na karoti? Kuki utarya sukumawiki? Kuko izi mboga zose ni ingenzi ku buzima bw’abana bacu n’ubw’imiryango yacu.” (Beatrice Nyirandikubwimana, Rwaza, Musanze)
“Gashaki ni ahantu heza. Niho ntuye kandi nta handi nakwifuza gutura hatari aha ntuye. Abaturanyi banjye ni nk’abavandimwe… kandi ibyo nkorera umuryango wanjye mbiterwa n’urukundo… buri wese akora icyo ashoboye, kandi byose Bizana imibereho myiza y’umuryango.” (Alphonsine Uwamaliya, Gashaki, Musanze)
Uyu mwaka, GHI irateganya gufatanya n’imiryango irenga 2100 mu turere twa Gasabo na Musanze. Kuri ubu turabagezaho ubuhamya bw’imiryango 3 mu miryango 2100. Iyi miryango ishushanya indangagaciro y’umusaruro rusange w’ubuhinzi mu Rwanda ndetse n’indagagaciro yo “kwitura” y’umuganura w’ abanyamerika. Mu gihe bahisemo gushora mu miryango yabo n’imiryango migari batuyemo, Jeannette Mukamana, Beatrice Nyirandikubwimana,na Alphonsine Uwamaliya baba bakwirakwiza mu buryo buziguye ibyo GHI yigisha. Gahunda yacu izamura umusaruro w’ibihingwa, igatuma babona amafunguro anyuranye kandi igateza imbere kwihaza mu ngo- aribyo twafata nk’ikarita iyobora imiryango yabaruwe mu kuva mu mirire mibi. Iyo imiryango yabaruwe muri GHI ihaye abaturanyi bayo yaba imbuto, amafunguro, ubumenyi cyangwa inama baba baguye imipaka y’iyi karita irenga imbibi z’ubuvuzi, bagatuma habaho ingaruka nziza ziri mu murongo w’ibyo gahunda ikurikiza.
Jeannette: Umusaruro wa Nyacyonga mu ishusho y’ imitima yisanzuye
“Byaba birebana n’imirire mibi [cyangwa se ikindi kibazo], buri gihe ngira abantu inama bitewe n’icyo mbona bakeneye”
Jeannette ni perezida w’ikimina cyo kuzigama gikorera muri Nyacyonga mu karere ka Gasabo. Koperative igendera ku bufatanye mu bukungu butanga inkunga y’amafaranga mu kurwanya ubukene binyuze mu misanzu. Jeanette yitabira buri nama, uyu muhate wo kwitabira akaba awukesha ubufatanye na GHI kuko yamufashije kuwunoza. Ntazuyaza kwitaba visi perezida umwungirije mu gihe aba ategurira ameza umugabo kandi yakira n’abashyitsi mu rugo rwe. Afatanya urukundo n’ubwitange:
“Iyo ukunda bagenzi bawe , ubaganiriza ku kigutera gukora ibyo ukoran’impamvu wabyiyemeje. Ukababwira gukora nk’ibyo nawe ukora.”
Jeannette ntago yishimira ko ubumenyi afite mu buhinzi no mu buzima bwaguma aho bukayoyoka ntawe abusangije. Mu gufata inshingano z’umujyanama ntagarugero utarabitorewe, ubushake bwe bwo kubwira abandi ibyo azi bugaragaza ubumwe bufatika buri muri Nyacyonga.
“Si mu miryango yabaye muri gahunda gusa ahubwo mu muryango mugari wose, ababyeyi barushaho kunga ubumwe kurusha mbere. Iyo ubonye umubyeyi ufite abana bashobora kujya mu mirire mibi, utitaye niba yarigeze aba muri gahunda, uba uzi ko ugomba kumufasha,”
Uburyo Jeannette akoresha mu kongerera imbaraga umuryango mugari aturukamo kugira ngo ayobore abandi ku rwego rw’umudugudu ni inzira izamura ubumenyi n’indangagaciro gahunda y’ubuzima ya GHI isanzwe ikurikiza. Uwahoze yumva ko yahangana n’ibibazo wenyine, ubu noneho Jeanette aharanira ubufatanya bwa Nyacyonga,yitura umuryango we n’abaturanyi abinyujije mu nkunga yo kwifatanya mu kababaro, inama n’impuhwe ku babaye.
“Najyaga ngira ibibazo nkatekereza ko ari ibyanjye gusa nkumva ko nta wundi nabibwira.Ubu mpitamo umuntu wo mu muryango wanjye cyangwa umuturanyi nkamufungurira umutima nkamubwira byose. Sinari nzi uko nitwara igihe hari uje kuntekerereza agahinda ke, ariko ubu nzi neza ko ngomba kubagaragariza impuhwe, kubumva no kubagira inama.”
Beatrice: Umusaruro wa Rwaza mu ishusho y’umurava
“Amahugurwa y’ubuzima n’ubuhinzi ya GHI yatwigishije gushira amanga. Njye niberaga mu rugo gusa. Ariko iyo abantu bakubonye ujya mu mahugurwa, bakakubona usubiza ibibazo, babona ko ushoboye. Ni uko natangiye mu kuyobora amahugurwa y’ubuhinzi mu muryango mugari. Kubera umurima w’igikoni wanjye, natoranyijwe mu bantu bahugura abandi mu buhinzi mu mudugudu wacu.
Uburyo Beatrice yemera uko yitinyaga kera bisa n’ibidashoboka ukurikije iterambere ry’urugo rwe kuri uyu munsi. Beatrice n’umubyeyi w’abana beza batanu bari hagati y’imyaka 2 na 11. Umurima we ufatanye n’urugo rwe ruherereye muri Rwaza, ukaba ugizwe na puwavuro, ibitunguru, karoti, dodo, na sukumawiki. Iki gihembwe yakoze umurama wa dodo wamwinjirije amafaranga 50.000 y’amanyarwanda yiyongera ku ndonke ye. Ni umuhuza mu makimbirano yo mu muryango mugari akaba n’umuvugizi w’ibyiza bya sukumawiki- imboga rwatsi zitamenyerewe mu muryango mugari we wa Musanze. Ibihe by’imvura bidasanzwe n’ubutaka buhanamye bya Rwaza bituma abahatuye bahura n’ikibazo cy’ isuri itwara ubutaka. Igihe imvura ikaze yo mu kwakira yasenyeraga umuturanyi we, Beatrice yayoboye bagenzi be bakuraho ubutaka bwari bwahatembeye bahasubiza umutekano waho. Beatrice afite indangagaciro z’umurimo uhamye kandi abishishikariza abandi- abana be n’abaturanyi be- abasaba gukora cyane nka we.
“Abana banjye, nizera ko bazagera ikirenge mu cyanjye, bagakurikiza ibyo nakoze, bakaba abanyamurava kandi bagakora cyane nk’uko nari meze nkiriho.Mu muryango mugari wacu, perezida w’igihugu ahora adushishikariza gukora cyane. Nifuza kuba umwe mu bagize umuryango mugari bakora bakazamura ubukungu bw’igihugu, igihe tuzaba tubugezeho mba nifuza kumva ko natanze umusanzu wanjye.”
Alphonsine: Umusaruro wa Gahaki mu ishusho yo kudacika intege
Gashaki aho Alphonsine atuye haherereye mu mpinga y’umusozi aho ubasha kwitegereza ikiyaga cya Ruhondo, nta soko ryihariye bagira. Rimwe mu cyumweru, Alphonsine akora urugendo rw’amasaha atatu ajya Murandi, agace bagabana imbibi mu majyaruguru y’u Rwanda, kugira ngo ashake inyungu mu mboga aba yasaguriye isoko. “Imifungo mike” ya dodo ayikuramo amafaranga 500 y’u Rwanda, mu gihe “imifungo myinshi” akuramo amafaranga 1000 yiyongera ku ndonke y’urugo.
“Dukunze kubura imboga hano muri Gashaki. Nkora uko nshoboye nkahinga imboga nyinshi zo kugurisha ku isoko, kuko abantu benshi badahinga imboga,”
Uburyo bwa Alphonsine bwo guhinga imyaka – bugaragaza igikenewe n’uburyo icyo gikenewe cyashakirwa umuti- bikerekana uburyo afata ubuzima mu muryango we no mu muryango mugari aturukamo. Iyo abona abaturanyi be batabanye neza “nawe yumva nta mahoro afite,” bikamutera kugira icyo akora ngo agarure umutekano mu baturanyi afata nk’ “abavandimwe”. N’ubwo yiyemerera ati “Ntago ndi inzobere nk’abigisha bahugura”, Alphonsine yihaye inshingano yo gukurikirana imibanire myiza y’imiryango ituye Gashaki, aho abigisha ku kuva ku gutegura indyo yuzuye kugera ku kamaro k’ubwumvane bwiza no gutega amatwi. Abikura ku masomo yakuye muri GHI, niko Alphonsine ahishura,
“Isomo ry’ubwumvane bwiza no gutega amatwi ryahinduye uburyo nafataga abantu. Abantu bakundaga kuza iwanjye nkumva ko bari kuntesha umwanya, nashoboraga kubibereka ku maso rwose ko nabarambiwe, n’ubwo bwose babaga baje kumbwira ibintu bibaremereye kuvuga. Ubu ngerageza kwereka abantu ko nahindutse, ubu ndabihanganira. N’ubwo bigoye kwigisha, ngerageza kwigisha abandi ubwumvane bwiza no gutega amatwi.”
Alphonsine “ntago ajya apfusha ubusa isaha n’imwe mu munsi” ndetse agahamya ko abishingira ku rukundo akunda umuryango we, ndetse rukarenga rukagera ku muryango mugari we wa Gashaki. Uretse ibihe bikomeye banyuzemo- urupfu rw’inkoko zabo zapfiriye mu cyorezo cyadukiriye akarere ndetse n’abajura babibye inkwavu, Alphonsine yiyemeje gusangira umusaruro we n’umugabo we, n’abana be n’abaturanyi be.
“Ntago tujya ducika intege. N’ubwo badutwaye ibyacu [abajura], tuzi neza ko dukomeye, turacyahumeka. Tuzashaka ibindi.