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Stories of hope in Rwanda

How funding from the Scottish Government is transforming lives in the wake of the pandemic and a global hunger crisis

15 Aug 2022

A group of smiling women sitting together and clapping

Funds have enabled Tearfund partner AEE to deliver its life-changing project in the Southern Province of Rwanda | Image credit: Chris Hoskins/Tearfund

While the world faces a global hunger crisis and significant challenges in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is powerful to hear testimonies of how Tearfund projects are continuing to transform lives and bring hope where it is needed most.

One project in Rwanda, run by our partner African Evangelistic Enterprise (AEE), has been at the heart of local communities, helping some of the poorest people to not only survive in these difficult times, but also to shape a brighter future for themselves and the next generation.

Thanks to funding from the Scottish Government, people living in the Southern Province – many of them women – have been given opportunities to learn new farming techniques to adapt to climate change and increase the amount of food they are producing. They’ve also been invited to join self-help groups, enabling them to access the means to revive or start up their own businesses, and ultimately provide food and income for their families.

Welcome funding boost

And now, building on this strong foundation, additional funding has been received from the Scottish Government to learn from this project and take the approach even further, as our partner continues its work in some of the poorest communities in the country.

Emmanuel Murangira, who leads Tearfund’s work in Rwanda, tells us more.

‘Over recent years, Scottish Government funding has helped our partner AEE to work with people in their own communities so that they can come together and learn new agricultural techniques, and also strengthen their financial capabilities, pooling resources to access savings and loans in order to start their own ventures and generate much-needed income.

‘We are grateful to the government of Scotland for this support, which has been crucial in these challenging times, not only in giving people the income they need in order to put food on the table and survive, but also because of the enormous impact on wellbeing this has had.

‘The stories people have shared with us have been ones of lives completely transformed. And now this new funding will help us go even further in providing real and lasting hope for so many women and disadvantaged groups in Rwanda.’
Emmanuel Murangira

Stories of transformation

One highlight of this project, known as Sustainable Economic and Agricultural Development (SEAD), has been seeing almost 30,000 people participating in self-help groups and regularly accessing financial services, enabling them to start or expand small businesses to support their families.

Community members who have participated have also reported increased yields in their crops, and there has been a significant increase in households now eating more than two meals per day, with more nutritious and varied options.

Amida shares the difference it has made to her life.

‘It was extremely challenging to get money to purchase food. And having clothes was hard. I would wash a rich person’s clothes and they would offer me a piece of clothing to wear. I really had nothing. I have two kids, yet I had nothing to give them. But since this project came, the women came together and formed self-help groups. Volunteers came and trained us. It was training on how to advance our lives.’

Donatille’s experience was also life-changing.

‘We were not valued in our houses. A woman’s sole worth was in her ability to make a bed and cook any food that she could find. We would do so in a disorganised way. But that is all we knew. Tearfund’s partner came here and they brought a group of volunteers. They invited any women in the community who had issues to come and work together. We went and met them at the village and they divided us into groups with similar issues, and taught us how to work together to identify solutions.’

Valentine is now thriving thanks to her involvement in this project.

‘They told me about the agriculture programme. At first it felt like a burden for me and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to do it. But I joined and was gradually trained. We grow crops together. My food provision is sufficient and greater than most people. I sell up to one tonne of maize and 500-600kg of Irish potatoes. I can now see that understanding the agricultural field, which I used to underestimate, actually generates profit, and I learned this through the group.’

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