There was something really special about sitting on the floor of Sperancia’s home surrounded by her and her friends talking about her idea for a juice business. Too often I want to quit my job and move and help someone get a business off the ground, but I have to trust that it will happen if it’s supposed to. Sperancia truly did something special creating that juice. I hope she keeps at it. This was for Vita Gardens/Africa New Life partnership. Photo by Esther Havens.
Sperancia took her children’s health into her own hands. Her five children would come home from school thirsty but didn’t want to drink water (water pulled from local wells can have a sulfuric taste and odor), so she started making juice infusions to keep them hydrated and healthy. She boiled passion fruit, pineapple and orange leaves she bought from the local market with her home-grown beets and spinach to make her special blend. “I love juice because I’ve learned it has nutrients,” she said. “It makes me feel good.” Like many people who are part of the Kageyo Garden Project, Sperancia innovated her garden and made it work for her family. She has consistently made decisions to improve her family’s life. Born in Uganda, she came to Rwanda in 2010 because the government was offering land and her children could receive scholarships for school. She has eight children, three of whom have grown up and moved out. Her husband works in Uganda looking after a store and they see each other only three or four times a year. Though they miss each other, this arrangement allows them to provide for their children and their future.
Sperancia farms sorghum, beans, maize, but had never tried and didn’t know about the benefits of a household garden. “I love gardening, and I appreciate being introduced to organic gardening. We benefitted a lot from the classes,” she said of the Kageyo Gardens Project. “I learned that greens and vegetables increase your health, filter your blood and lower the risk of heart disease.” She’s had her garden for almost a year, and it has already changed her family’s health. If the family spends a week eating greens in her household and then a week without, she can notice the difference. Her children wake up with more energy, too.
Sperancia does all of this to see her children’s lives improve. “When I am not able to provide for their needs, I feel sad,” she admitted. Household gardens allow parents to directly contribute to their children’s lives and health. The lack of a local economy means most people aren’t compensated for hard work. Most farm at subsistence level and have to watch children go without and even go hungry. A home kitchen garden gives parents the opportunity to see immediate results for their families. As an added benefit, Sperancia no longer spends 2000 Rwandan francs a week on vegetables from the market. She has more cabbage, spinach and carrots from her own garden than she could afford to buy.
Her friends who have tried her juice love it, so Sperancia would like to start a business in the future. Her neighbor Goreti said, “I would buy it by the liter because it is rich in nutrients.” Yvonne, another neighbor, provided a future-client testimonial about her daughter who was sick and had yellowed eyes until she started drinking Sperancia’s juice. Sperancia is proud to contribute to her family and community in such a meaningful way. Theo is working on adding a fourth class to the gardening curriculum that he will call community development – a kind of Business 101 – and Sperancia’s juice would be a great pilot project.