Friday, 31 October 2014

Back to Rwanda (now with retrospective photos)

In a couple of weeks I shall be setting off for Kigali. My visit is for seeing dear friends and getting a sense of what has continued and what changed since Growing Together in Rwanda came to its formal end two years ago.

Since then a few of us, mostly Quakers, have established a new charity, African Great Lakes Peace Trust, to fund selected projects devised, run and evaluated by organisations and people we trust. I am looking forward to seeing for myself which projects are securely based and could make good use of funds.

During my two years after the end of the project I have been looking for ways to make use in London of what I learned in Rwanda. This year I have started supplying vegetables, jams and chutneys as an 'allotment lucky dip' to Edible Ealing, a fortnightly organic box scheme run as part of Ealing Transition Initiative. (I haven't worked out how to insert links, but both those terms can be looked up on line.) Now I shall take the modest amount of money made by contributions of £2 per order to give to people I know for schemes too small for official charitable funding.

I'll post frequently while away. I love getting comments. Now here are some illustrations to explain the outline of the project.

This sack filled with soil and a central column of stones, to be planted on the sides and top, was my first offering. It was devised in Uganda and propogated by Send-a-Cow, among others.

On a second visit to a group I found many examples like this.

Then the women started saying they didn't know what to do with the strange veg from my seeds, so with a Rwandan colleague I invited groups to shop, cook and eat together. We had wonderful feasts.

Meanwhile the ministry of health was encouraging people to construct 'kitchen gardens' with several tiers and a central basket for vegetable refuse to rot and feed the soil.

The commonest crop at some times of the year is beans - the staple protein.

There's been a government drive to grow more maize and less of everything else: people aren't told why andthey hate it. But local officials see everything and report back. To my great delight, a young American agronomist is promoting conservative agriculture on a much larger scale than I could attempt.

Finally, here's a typical Rwandan landscape, with a refugee camp on the top of the far hill hinting that all is not yet well in this part of Africa.