Sunday, 7 December 2014

Sowing the last seeds (1)

It has been a busy few days. On Monday I travelled to Gisenyi, four hours on a crowded bus, then visited with Rachel the Friends Church where I had done an initial workshop (with Theoneste) at the end of my project. One of my trainees stands proudly for a photo in front of a much larger construction than 'my' sacks.

The dodo (local amaranth) is well established and also planted in the surrounding ground, but otherwise there are only a few onion seedlings. Etienne, a pastor I first met several years ago, tells me the mice eat a lot. However, he has been on a training in Burundi and is now inspired by no-till and the magic of layering different organic materials, so perhaps he will encourage varied planting. On his phone he shows me a photo of murky water poured quickly through a bucket of unenriched soil and clean water filtered slowly through layers of organic matter. My stock of seeds is dwindling but I give him some Italian summer broccoli, some dark green cabbage and some 'cherry' tomatoes: '”Don't wait for them to get big.”

Tuesday's journey up to Mutura is already documented.

Wednesday was the day of the three bags. In the afternoon – after they are done with the morning market - we were due to meet some members of a new women's group, set up by TLC, Transformational Leadership Centre.

I have been hearing about this organisation and its predecessor TEE, Theological Education by Extension, over my years of visits. Writing today (Saturday) I ask David Bucura (busy pressing his suit for today's wedding – yes, I have stayed with him and Rachel overnight) to explain its status. TEE was started by Tear Fund in 1996, to bring 42 denominations of Rwandan churches together in educating new leaders to replace those lost in the genocide and its aftermath. As it happens, Meg Guillebaud was the first treasurer. Now Tear Fund is no longer involved. TLC is registered with the Rwandan government as a charity (a lengthy and tedious process), administered on behalf of all the churches by the Friends Church. It has three programmes - peace education, children's peace libraries, and community mobilisation for poverty reduction. Wednesday's women's group at Kanzenze, on the main road below Mutura, is an example of work in the third category.

We arrive late after rain. Two women are waiting for us in a little peace library. Gradually a few more arrive. This is just like the old days. Rachel says we are expected to teach something about healthy eating. We fill an hour: try eating some of the veg you grow instead of selling them all then having to use the money you earned to buy food from somebody else; the vitamins and minerals in fruit and veg (that's Rachel's segment and doesn't need to be translated for me); mixed planting – if you were a cabbage pest would you look for a field of cabbages or the individual cabbages mixed up with other things?

I don't have any seeds selected for this group but they would clearly like some. I give them 5000rwf, enough for 50 packets at Agrotech in Gisenyi or Ruhengeri. I wish them well.

Quite soon it's time to walk back to the bus ticket office where my suitcase is being looked after. Accompanying us is a young man with good English who teaches IT in a business college, volunteers as the librarian here and is also working with Matt. Promising.

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