In House and Home: A GHI Photo Essay
Story and Photos by Maggie Andresen, Translation by Jasmine Umubano. Photo captions appear when photo is clicked.
“When the children are sick, I also feel unwell.”
The healthy weight for an eight-month-old child is between eight and ten kilograms. When Nyirantugane Claudine, a 21-year-old mother of twin girls Uwiduhaye Divine and Muhawenimana Kevine, enrolled in GHI’s Health Center Program this January, her eight-month-old twin daughters only weighed six kilograms each.
GHI’s Health Center Program, which runs out of 15 partnered health centers spread widely around Musanze District in northern Rwanda, provides integrated trainings in health and agriculture for groups of about 600 women in three-month sessions that run during Rwanda’s two annual rainy seasons. Claudine was among 574 mothers trained from early January through March. Her home, a 45-minute walk from Musanze Health Center, was a small one-room shack made from banana leaves and timber on the property of her in-laws. When it rained, the roof leaked and Claudine’s children would fall ill.
Claudine was reticent but honest when she was first interviewed by the GHI team in January. She ran her hands over Divine’s small frame as she spoke.
“When I think of how I will get a house, it is so hard for me.”
While all of the families supported by GHI programming are economically vulnerable, Claudine’s case was extreme. She had sold the iron sheets intended to serve as the roof to a new house to pay her hospital bill for giving birth, and couldn’t afford to replace them or build anything more than a timber frame of her planned home.
Her twins, Divine and Kevine, not yet covered by health insurance, were often sick because of the leaking roof that let rain into the small shack where they slept. Claudine’s husband's income is inconsistent since he doesn't have a steady job. Each day Focus searches for work as a day laborer on nearby farms. Most of his pay was spent treating the children for various illnesses. Claudine had learned the importance of gradually saving small amounts of money at one of GHI’s trainings and wanted to try it herself, but couldn’t afford to with the hospital bills. Neighbors often contributed food to the family, knowing how dire their situation was.
GHI began documenting Claudine’s time in the Health Center Program to follow the progress one family can make through the duration of the three-month program. In that time Claudine became a Turi Kumwe client, helped by GHI’s staff-supported fund that supports the program’s most vulnerable families with temporary financial support through challenging circumstances.
First, GHI advocated for Claudine to get subsidized milk and RUTF (Ready To Use Food) “plumpy nut,” which helps stabilize severely malnourished children, at her local health center where Claudine attended GHI trainings. Next, the Turi Kumwe fund gifted Claudine with soaps, plates, and fortified porridge for her children. Lastly, with advocacy from GHI staff members, the Turi Kumwe fund supported the construction of a new house for Claudine’s family.
Seperate from the Turi Kumwe fund, individual GHI staff members contributed RWF 80,000 ($90) to purchase the land needed for Claudine’s home. The Turi Kumwe committee contributed an additional RWF 40,000 ($45) for the timber used in construction, and later donated additional funds for hired labor, extra timber, and nails. A local community leader contributed the iron sheets for Claudine’s roof, and her neighbors helped the first phase of construction by spending their May Umuganda, Rwanda’s monthly day of community service, building the foundation for her home alongside GHI volunteers and local members of the military.
Claudine surveyed the construction as hordes of people pitched in their service, carrying rocks to build her foundation, and roping timber together to build a new frame for her home. Focus helped direct workers as they measured and cut the timbers to fit the frame, while Claudine fed her twins nearby. When asked how her life had changed since becoming involved with GHI, she laughed.
“Let me tell you, I was very blessed in GHI; they have done a lot for me. I used to feel sad because when it rained I would wake up in the middle of the night with my children and go sleep at my mothers-in-law’s house, but now I am happy that that will not happen again.”
Claudine’s family still faces many challenges; their income is not consistent, their garden did not produce as many vegetables as they had hoped due to the season’s heavy rains, and the twins are still not covered by health insurance, although GHI is currently helping advocate for their coverage. But the security of a home will help the family immeasurably as they continue to improve their livelihood. Claudine also hopes to contribute to the family’s income, she proposed the idea of being a shop owner as well as a farmer.
“Once my children are grown up I hope to help Papa Kevine (named Focus) and start doing jobs as well and support our family,” Claudine expressed. “I would also love to move out of poverty and improve my standards of living.”
Claudine embodies the strength of the women GHI is privileged to work with every day; her dedication to her family’s health and wellbeing is what inspired our staff to help advocate for her new home, and continues to motivate us as we reach more vulnerable families through our programming.
“I am grateful for everything you have helped me with,” thanked Claudine. “You gave me soap, you gave me a house, and so much more.”
“Iyo ntekereje uko nzabona inzu, numva binkomereye.”
Nyirantungane Claudine yavuze bike ariko avugisha ukuri ubwo yabazwaga ibibazo n’itsinda ryo mu murima w’ubuzima mu ntangiriro z’ukwezi kwa mbere k’umwaka wa 2018. Claudine umubyeyi w’imyaka 21 ufite abana babiri b’impanga Uwiduhaye Divine na Muhawenimana Kevine, yavugaga akora kuri Kevine.
“Iyo abana barwaye nanjye numva merewe nabi”
Ibiro bikwiye ku mwana w’amezi umunani ni hagati y’ibiro umunani n’icumi. Ubwo Claudine yinjiraga muri gahunda y’ibigonderabuzima, abana be b’impanga b’amezi umunani bari bafite ibiro bitandatu byonyine buri wese.
Gahunda y’ibigonderabuzima ikorana n’ibigonderabuzima cumi na bitanu mu karere ka Musanze mu ntara y’amajyaruguru y’u Rwanda, itanga amahugurwa ku bijyanye n’ubuzima ndetse n’ubuhinzi mu matsinda ku bagore magana atandatu mu gihe cy’amezi atatu. Ayo mahugurwa atangwa mu bihe bibiri by’imvura mu Rwanda.
Claudine yari mu babyeyi 574 bahuguwe kuva mu ntangiriro z’ukwambere kugeza mu kwa gatatu. Urugo rwe ruri ahakorwa urugendo rw’amaguru rw’iminota 45 uvuye ku kigonderabuzima cya Musanze, yari inzu y’icyumba kimwe yubatswe mu mashara y’insina n’ibiti mu isambu y’umuryango w’umugabo we. Iyo imvura yagwaga, igisenge cy’inzu cyaravaga abana be bakaba barwara. Nubwo imiryango yose yo mu Murima w’Ubuzima ifashwa muri gahunda y’ibigonderabuzima ikennye, ikibazo cya Claudine cyo cyari gikomeye cyane. Yari yaragurishije amabati yagombaga gusakara inzu nshyashya kugirango yishyure ibitaro ubwo yabyaraga. Nyuma yaho ntiyabashije kubona ayasimbura cyangwa ngo yubake ikindi kirenze ku nzu y’ibiti.
Abana be b’impanga Divine na Kevine, bakundaga kurwara cyane kubera igisenge kiva aho barara kandi bari batarishyurirwa ubwisungane mu kwivuza. Umushahara w’umugabo we nawo urahindagurika kuko adafite akazi gahoraho. Buri munsi, Focus ashaka aho yakorera umubyizi mu mirima ibegereye. Amafaranga menshi yakoreye yakoreshejwe mu kuvuza abana indwara zitandukanye. Claudine yize akamaro ko kwizigama amafaranga make muri amwe mu mahugurwa yo mu murima w’ubuzima yifuza kujya abikora nawe ariko ntiyabishobora kubera amafaranga yagombaga kwishyura ibitaro. Abaturanyi bakunda kubaha ibyo kurya kubera bazi uko babayeho.
Umurima w’Ubuzima Mpuzamahanga watangiye gukurikirana Claudine mu gihe yari muri gahunda y’ibigonderabuzima kugirango barebe intambwe umuryango ushobora gutera mu gihe mezi atatu t’oyo gahunda. Muri icyo gihe, Claudine yabaye umukiriya wa Turikumwe, afashwa n’inkunga iva mu bakozi bo mu murima w’ubuzima, ifasha imiryango ikennye cyane kurusha iyindi, ikabaha ubufasha bw’amafaranga mu bihe bigoranye.
Mbere na mbere, Umurima w’Ubuzima wavuganiye Claudine ngo abone amata y’inkunga, n’ibiryo bishobora guhita bikoreshwa byitwa RUTF bifasha kondora abana bafte ikibazo gikabije cy’imirire mibi ku kigonderabuzima aho Claudine yafatiraga Amahugurwa. Ikindi, ikigega cya Turikumwe cyahaye Claudine amasabune n’igikoma cy’abana be. Icya nyuma, hamwe n’ ubuvugizi bw’ abakozi b’Umurima w’Ubuzima, ikigega cya Turikumwe cyafashije mu kubaka inzu nshyashya y’umuryango wa Claudine.
Abakozi bo mu murima w’ubuzima batanze amafaranga y’amanyarwanda ibihumbi mirongo inani ($90) atandukanye n’ayo muri Turikumwe kugirango hagurwe ikibanza cy’urugo rwa Claudine. Abagize komite ya Turikumwe batanze andi mafaranga y’amanyarwanda ibihumbi mirongo ine ($45) ku mbaho zakoreshejwe mu kubaka, hanyuma n’andi mafaranga y’umufundi, izindi mbaho n’imisumari. Umuyobozi w’inzego z’ibanze yafashije mu kugura amabati yo gusakara inzu ya Claudine, abaturanyi bitanga umusanzu wabo mu gice cya mbere cya mbere cy’iyubakwa ubwo bakoreshaga umuganda wabo w’ukwezi kwa Gicurasi mu kubaka fondasiyo y’inzu hamwe n’abakorerabushake bo mu murima w’ubuzima n’abasirikare.
Claudine yakurikiranye uko abantu bitwaraga mu mirimo bakoraga, gutunda amabuye yo kubaka fondasiyo, no kwegeranya ibiti byo kubaka inzu ye. Focus yafashije abakoraga kubara no gukata imbaho mo uduce ngo batangire kwubaka, mu gihe Claudine we yagaburiraga abana hafi aho. Abajijwe uko ubuzima bwe bwahindutse aho agereye mu murima w’ubuzima, yarasetse.
“Reka mbabwire, naboneye uugisha mu murima w’ubuzima: bankoreye byinshi. Najyaga mbabazwa nuko iyo imvura yagwaga nashoboraga kubyuka hagati mu ijoro hamwe n’abana banjye tukajya kurara kwa mabukwe, ariko ubu ndishimye ko bitazongera kubaho.”
Umuryango wa Claudine uracyahura n’ingorane nyinshi. Amafaranga binjiza arahindagurika, umurima wabo ntago wezemo imboga zhagije nkuko babyiringiraga kubera ko imvura yaguye ari nyinshi cyane, abana ntago barishyurirwa ubwishingizi nubwo Umurima w’Ubuzima uri kubavuganira. Kubona inzu bizafasha umuryango cyane bakomeza no kunoza imibereho yabo. Claudine yifuza gutanga umusanzu ku mafaranga umuryango winjiza, atekereza kuba umucuruzi n’umuhinzi icyarimwe.
“igihe abana banjye bazaba bamaze gukura, nshaka kuzafasha Papa Kevine (Focus) ngatangira gukora ngafasha umuryango wanjye”, byavuzwe na Claudine. “Nakwishimira kandi no kuba nava mu bukene nkarushaho kunoza imibereho yanjye’.
Claudine ashushanya imbaraga z’abagore Umurima w’Ubuzima ukorana nabo buri munsi; ubwitange bwe ku buzima no ku kubaho neza k’umuryango we nibwo bwatumye abakozi bacu bamufasha mu buvugizi ngo abone inzu ye nshyashya, kandi bukomeje kudutera umwete wo kugera ku yindi miryango ikennye biciye muri gahunda yacu.
“Ndabashimira ku byo mwamfashishije byose” niko Claudine yashimye. “Mwampaye isabune, mumpa inzu, n’ibindi byinshi.”