GHI’s staff house. We have a great little back yard with a garden. Eleven of us live here — a nice 30 minute walk from the office.

 

The road to work. Rwanda is in the midst of lots of road work — and our road should be paved within the year!

Our first few days of work have been jam-packed. We spent Monday learning more about GHI’s operations and discussing how we might best support their work. We decided that during our time here, we will help put the finishing touches on GHI’s health curriculum, develop a series of blog posts to get GHI’s blog started, provide computer and English lessons for national staff members, and prepare health training presentation materials for GHI’s health workers. At the end of the day, Elena took us on a great tour of the farm, which is two hectares of land behind GHI’s office building. GHI uses the food from this land to feed all of its employees a healthy, hearty lunch, and to practice the organic farming methods that it advises families to employ.

Tuesday, we tagged along with Patience, one of GHI’s wonderful agricultural agents, on her visits to three local families. At the first house, the family greeted her with smiles and hugs. Patience walked through their garden, pointing out the carrots, beets and red onions they were growing. She and the household’s father and mother then picked up backhoes and within twenty minutes heaped up a pile of freshly churned dirt to plant with beans. Patience, in her tan cardigan, black capris and black, gold studded flats, left the garden without a speck of dust on her.

We rode motos back to Ndera (the neighborhood where GHI’s office is located) to visit two more families. One mother insisted upon feeding us lunch — she said over and over how glad she was to have us — and her garden appeared to be quite productive. Her youngest son, however, is malnourished. At first, it was difficult for us to understand that even if six of a family’s children are healthy, the seventh can be malnourished.

On Wednesday, we drove an hour in GHI’s white Toyota truck to Ngiryi health center, with Gina and I in the front seat and Kat crammed in back with three Menyanibi Mamas (GHI’s health workers). There, Kat and I accompanied Innocent and Joseph, two agricultural agents, on another series of family visits. These families were welcoming and quite enthusiastic about GHI. I asked one mother what she thought of GHI and she said the she appreciates the education and nourishment that GHI has provided her family. Before, she said, her children were malnourished, and now, they have grown to be healthy young adults. She also said that she has been able to save money by selling food from the home garden GHI helped her establish and that when she separates from GHI after three seasons, she plans to continue gardening. She even hopes to expand her garden to unused land surrounding her home.

While Kat and I were exploring, Gina stayed at the health center to help the Menyanibi Mamas  and ten local mamas (we call all mothers mamas) cook lunch. The mamas and Gina sat together while the food cooked to learn each other’s language.

After lunch, we watched Naome and Claire (two Menyanibi Mamas) teach 40 mamas about HIV/AIDS. Naome and Claire began the lesson with a skit about in which Claire acted as a Community Health Worker attending to Naome, a sick HIV positive woman. They then began their lesson, running through how HIV is spread and how to prevent infecting oneself or others. The mamas giggled and hummed collectively in response to the information Claire and Naome shared.

When Naome and Claire finished, they called each mama’s name to collect their week’s savings. The Menyanibi Mamas keep this saved money for three months, until the mamas have finished the health curriculum. When the Menyanibi Mamas redistribute the money the mamas have saved, the mamas are usually quite astounded.

Not only does GHI provide support to families by helping them develop home gardens and by teaching them a health curriculum but it also teaches families the importance of savings and of financial responsibility.

Today, Kat, Gina and I have set up shop at the airport (the most reliable wireless in the area), to work on GHI’s health curriculum.

Lots of coffee and chapati!

Finally made it to Rwanda! Beautiful, hilly country – beautiful weather. Have just been getting settled so far. GHI’s staff has been so wonderful and hospitable (they’re also really fun). 

Real work starts on Monday!

This marks the beginning of our internship with Gardens for Health International for Summer 2012! Gina, Kat and I are ready to get going!

We are sitting in the JFK airport waiting to board the first leg of our trip to Qatar, where we’ll spend twelve hours before boarding the final leg to Kigali. Lots of flying to do!

Made it to Doha, Qatar, where we’ve made camp. Cat naps on the floor and in the guarded lounge we found. (Gina’s the red blanket.)

"Ni twebwe muti w'ibibazo byacu."

We are the ones we've been waiting for.

(These views are our own and do not reflect the views of GHI.)

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