It’s hard to interview people who haven’t yet benefited from the program you are trying to promote. Vita Gardens, the client, funded a garden program in partnership with Africa New Life Ministries in Rwanda. This man was near desperation as he talked about his family’s condition. I interviewed him through a translator who spoke his native Kinyarwanda as his child walked about in a dirty, oversized shirts. I had so little to offer him, and I’m grateful he took the time to speak with us. Hopefully he has his garden by now. Photo by Esther Havens.
There are still many families in Kageyo that haven’t yet planted gardens, and the difference in their diets is stark. Theogene and his wife Immaculate moved to Kageyo a year ago to look for work. They rent a small house surrounded by crops of cassava and corn, but it is not theirs to eat. Two of their three children live with them; they sent one to stay with a relative since food is so scarce. Theogene works making bricks, which is hard work, especially under the equatorial sun. He mixes clay-like mud and straw with his feet and then molds each brick individually. They can be sold for 20 Rwandan francs (about 2 cents) each.
Since he rarely has much money, Theogene buys the cheapest food he can, sweet potatoes, and the family eats them for breakfast and dinner. They often go to bed hungry. “Sometimes I don’t feel good because I haven’t eaten all night,” he said. “I wake up without the strength to work.” The worst part for him is that it affects his children. He has taken them to the hospital five times in the last year for various illnesses that he believes are the result of malnutrition. Theogene is eagerly awaiting his garden because he knows it will help him to save money and provide food for his children. Kageyo Garden Project’s classes combined with technical assistance to build and plant a keyhole garden will offer Theogene’s family the ability to get ahead for once. They will be able to know where their next meal is coming from and save money for the things they need. It will hopefully allow their family to reunite, live under one roof and share meals together for years to come.