Savio and Providence live high up in the hills of a remote community in Rwanda. Life has been difficult for them. Their small farm has not been very productive. Everything that they are able to grow goes straight to their own table with nothing left over to sell in the market for extra income. Whenever they can find work as day laborers, working on their neighbor’s farms, they do that to make a little cash for living essentials, but it doesn’t provide much to support their three children.
About a year ago they joined an ADRA program that has really changed their lives. EMBRACE, a program co-funded by ADRA Canada and the Canadian government, works in remote communities to introduce new life-ways that help people live better and healthier lives. While the primary focus of the program is to improve the health of mothers, babies, and children under five, everyone in the community is learning and benefiting from the program.
In a recent interview, Savio and Providence shared what they have learned from the ADRA program:
“We used to eat the same thing every day, sweet potatoes mixed with maize and some beans. That is what we grew on our farm, and that is what we ate. It wasn’t much, but at least our children never went hungry, so we thought we were good providers. When we joined the ADRA EMBRACE program one of the first things that they did was have all of the children come in for a health assessment. We were very surprised to find out that our youngest was underweight and underdeveloped for his age.
In the nutrition classes we started going to, we learned that while we had been feeding our children enough food, we had not been giving them the variety of foods necessary for a balanced diet. They told us that everyone should have a kitchen garden, right by your house, so that whenever you are cooking you can go out and pick some fresh vegetables to add to your meal. ADRA provided us with some seeds and taught us some ways to improve our soil with natural fertilizers. We started growing spinach, cabbage, carrots and other greens to mix in with our sweet potatoes and maize. We have been on the new diet now for about three months and already we have noticed a big change. Our children have gained weight and we are all much healthier.
The program has also taught us about the importance of good hygiene, keeping our house and yard clean, and washing hands before we eat. Since we started doing all of that, we have noticed that we hardly ever get sick any more. We are really thankful for ADRA and all that they are doing for our community. They recently donated an ambulance to our health center, and now the government is improving all of the roads in our area. This is making us feel more connected to other communities and more secure in case of emergencies. Thank you ADRA for all that you are doing to help us!”