The efforts of the Rwanda Red Cross to improve the lives of the poorest people in Ruhango District

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After a survey carried out of the problems in the Sectors of Byimana and Ruhango in Ruhango District it was realized that the Sectors shared certain challenges and that something needed to be done.

They include extreme poverty, poor hygiene and cleanliness, poor nutrition and a lack of a clean water supply. To deal with these issues, the Rwanda Red Cross and Spanish Red Cross collaborated together and also involved the beneficiaries themselves, with the objective of attaining long term development.

As required by the project, in addition to volunteers holding meetings with the beneficiaries to teach them on these matters, homes are also visited on a regular basis to check if the advice given to the beneficiaries is actually implemented.

Selecting the beneficiaries required a certain procedure. The person to be assisted had to be among the poorest in society, possibly with a disability; but anyone considered was required to be able to take care of any livestock given to them.

Théophile Nyandwi, one of beneficiaries explains how he was chosen: “I was chosen because I am poor, and they want me to develop. I believe I will manage to do so and leave poverty behind so that I can be like all other people”.

The beneficiaries say they are developing because of the project. Béatha Mukeshuwera gives her testimony: “Red Cross gave me a pig that produced 8 piglets. A person had given me a calf to rear and when I could no longer do it, they offered to sell it to me. I sold the piglets and got 100,000 Rwf for them. I then added some money and bought the calf. I therefore thank the Rwanda Red Cross because without those pigs, I would not have been able to afford the Calf. I thank the Red Cross for helping us develop through livestock. The calf has now grown into a cow and was recently artificially inseminated and is now pregnant. My life has changed since they first gave me that pig.

Thanks to pigs received the beneficiaries leave poverty behind

Thanks to pigs received the beneficiaries leave poverty behind

To get livestock to as many beneficiaries as possible, the Rwanda Red Cross also uses the method of urging beneficiaries to donate some of the offspring of their animals to neighbors with none. The scheme also helps people to forge friendships and for future beneficiaries to help with the rearing of livestock they know will one day provide them with their own animals.

In settlements, the volunteers go from house to house giving advice to the beneficiaries, depending on the progress they find that they have made.

Idrissa Kanani, one of them explains what they do in their settlement: “ in this settlement of Karambo, there was a problem of many children who did not eat well. We had 37 children with Kwashiorkor. As soon as we arrived here with our project, we started a project of helping every home to have its own small vegetable garden. We made sure each child got their own special meal. Since then the health of the children has been progressively coming out of the red zone and towards the green one. Now, even people from other nearby settlements come to learn from us.

The children has been progressively coming out of the red zone and towards the green one

The children have been progressively coming out of the red zone and towards the green one

Concerning that milk, we make it out of Soya and the beneficiaries have it. We let it dry for 24 hours before grinding down and getting soya milk, which replaces regular cow milk. That is not all because we also make Tofu from Soya which can taste like meat”, he said.

Béatrice Mukanyandwi can testify to this: “my child was in the red, but after bringing him here where they prepare dishes for children, his weight increased because we are now able to get milk.

He improved from the red zone to the yellow as we came to cook here and also went to the Health Center for training. He has now come out of the yellow zone and moved to the green. Now my child has no problem”.

As it is said, development is a step taken every day, progressively through the willpower of the person taking the steps. The beneficiary must seek that willpower within themselves, with the help of development partners. The Volunteers of the Rwanda Red Cross are also to be commended for their sacrifices. Everyone is being urged to play their part so that the problems seen in the Sectors where this project was implemented that are evident elsewhere are resolved as well.

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