‘Growing together’: a reconciliation and development project in Rwanda, initiated by
This project will work with groups of women on improving their agricultural productivity while strengthening the bonds of friendship forged in Healing and Rebuilding Our Communities (HROC) workshops devised and run for groups of former neighbours from both sides of the conflict by Friends Peace House, Kigali. Growing food co-operatively will provide a practical context for women from the divided communities to continue to meet. Better nutrition for themselves and their families will improve the chances of social, intellectual and spiritual growth, as well as physical health.
Staff at Friends Peace House, who will be able to translate between French or English and Kinyarwanda, will work with me running three day workshops for groups of ‘Women in Dialogue’ already established in Kigali and in the countryside. I shall also be involved in an inter-church community development project: ‘Church Mobilisation for Poverty Reduction’.
I visited Rwanda in February-March 2008 as a member of the Friendly FolkDancers’ tour, taking a message of peace between former enemies. On that tour we were frequently asked to come back and teach dances and songs – I shall be doing just that for school and church groups, as well as developing the gardening and community building work.
My project has been accepted by the African Great Lakes Initiative (AGLI), a programme of Friends Peace Teams. AGLI strengthens, supports and promotes peace activities in Burundi, Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, responding as quickly as possible to crises, such as the post election violence in Kenya in early 2008, as well as developing and sustaining longer term programmes. Part of my initial commitment is to raise money for AGLI’s general funds. My first visit will be for 4 weeks, arriving at the end of January, before the heavy rains in March. I expect to make several more visits in the next few years, and will continue to raise funds for AGLI, for example by giving illustrated talks. I am happy to receive invitations to speak.
For articles about HROC see aglionline.org /publications /peaceways.htm.
To hear Debby Thomas talking about moringa trees and other food related projects, go to
speakingtruth.org and search for Rwanda.
For more productive gardening in Africa see www.cowforce.com.
The Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, www.torturecare.org.uk, runs the
‘Natural Growth Project’, which is part of my inspiration.
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