- Trained 150 vulnerable women to grow fruit trees
- The government recognises their project as a model farm
- Cultural gender-barriers are broken – men help the project
Following one of the recommendations in an interim evaluation of the Aspire DFID funded agriculture project, Network for Africa decided to help the women diversify their agricultural produce. A group of 89 women in Rutunga was given the land and the start-up costs to begin growing bananas and tamarillo plants. The women were trained in how to prepare for, plant and grow their fruit trees. In many parts of Africa, men will not participate in agricultural work. However, we encouraged the local men to get involved, helping their wives and partners to prepare the land. It was hard, physical work, but under the supervision of the agronomist all the trees were planted in good time for the rains. Such was the success of this project that the fruit farm was designated a “model farm” by the local government authorities, and in 2016 it was opened up to another 61 women who were also trained and cultivated their own banana trees and tamarillo plants. The local men also saw for themselves how they could contribute to a project that reaped rewards for their families, improving life for everyone.
Aspire is a Rwandan NGO based in Kigali. It provides training and support to women so that they can lift themselves and their families out of poverty. Founded by social worker Peace Ruzage, Aspire was set up to help the large numbers of unemployed women in her neighbourhood living in extreme poverty. She offered her veranda as a place for them to socialise and support each other. Soon, 300 women attended her meetings, and Peace saw that poverty was only one aspect of disadvantage these women faced – they had also experienced rape, sexual abuse and domestic violence. Furthermore, they weren’t aware of their rights, some were HIV+, couldn’t read or write having left school to work, and many exhibited signs of trauma/PTSD due to their experiences of abuse and/or the genocide. During our partnership with Peace and Aspire, they devised and managed the projects above.