Sunday, 7 December 2014

Sowing the last seeds (2)

On Thursday we're in Ruhengeri. After breakfast we're collected by Hirwa (who turns out to be Rachel's nephew) and driven in the old HROC car to the new office for HROC Rwanda on the outskirts of Ruhengeri. HROC (Healing and Rebuilding Our Communities) is extending its trauma-healing work beyond Tutsi-Hutu groups. I worked with the pigmoid minority – Batwa. Now the new UK charity, African Great Lakes Peace Trust, has funded a first group for people with disabilities and their family members. The basic three day training was some weeks ago. Today 18 of the original 20 and one son of a woman too ill to attend have reconvened. They know I am connected with the donor.

After introductions from everybody, Hirwa and Julienne invite testimonies on what was most helpful from the training. Themes emerge: trusting others, speaking out instead of hiding away, experiencing the love of the group, using new-found confidence to help and encourage others with problems. One woman weeps as she says she used to hide her disabled children and now she can welcome visitors.

Then are the usual workshop activities – a lively game, talking and listening in pairs on a series of specified subjects feedback on the exercise. Then a long tea break – presumably to give some social time as we eat bananas and mandazi (doughnuts) and wait for the tea to arrive.

All these participants were happy to be photographed, and perhaps particularly the young man who chose not to limp outside.

Then it's my turn. I know this HROC team has done at least one training drawing on my work. I have brought some seeds, chosen for familiarity, and my last copy of a teaching book that I like a lot on more and better food. A quick exercise in groups gives us a list of more than twenty foods eaten by at least one person this week. I explain the value of eating many different foods, even unfamiliar ones. These are people whose life is difficult and I'm glad in a way to learn that as they don't grow enough to sell they eat what they produce. What are the benefits? No need to exchange money. Extra freshness. No need to travel.

HROC is encouraging them to cultivate veg in local groups. I leave the seed distribution to the local leader for people with disabilities, who himself uses a crutch. On the way back into town with Hirwa I ask if he has ever bought seeds. He doesn't know where Agrotech is, though it has been in the same place on the main road for at least 4 years. We have enough time in hand. I take him into the shop. We buy 5 packets of 8 kinds of seeds for under 5000rwf.

On Saturday I'm visiting Rachel and Bucura. Rachel is always happy to show off her garden. Here is her seed bed, planted with what I gave her last week.

And here is a mature corner of the garden, with avocados and yams.

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