Progress at Rutonde
We have come to Rutonde and our children's porridge project outside of Kigali. The rains are beginning to return and the road is still soft from a heavy downpour two nights ago. Our driver weaves carefully among the potholes and puddles to protect his creaking suspension.
The taxi gets us to the village early but the children and their mothers are already waiting for us, sheltering from the sun in the shade of the church building. Inside we are welcomed by Pastor Jean before being taken on a tour of the village.
Back outside, the sun is searingly hot. Jean takes us to the house of a boy who has been on the project and has been given a rabbit to take back to his family. This animal was a female who has since produced eleven young. These have been sold by the boy's mother who has used the money to buy clothes for her six children. She has also been able to buy a pig which will also provide income as well as meat.
A short walk away in a simple two-room house, the news at our next port of call is less happy. This family have also been able to sell the off-spring of their rabbit and the boy who we took onto the project is looking bright and cheerful. Out of the conversation though we learn that one of his brothers has been lying in the back room of the house with malaria.
Further up the hill, the river is turning heavy and brown as it snakes its way northwards from Kigali. We are taken to several houses up the hillside, some of which we have been to before. There are measurable improvements to the quality of life of these people since we saw them last. The goats and rabbits we have introduced into the area have allowed families to establish a regular income which they did not have before. The families are also developing other income-generating activities. We saw beans drying in the sun outside one house and cassava being grown in the fields among banana trees.
Back in the church, we hear testimonies from mothers of children who have been on the project. One woman told of how her daughter had been unable to walk before being given her daily porridge but that now she was able to stand and walk about. The child is presented proudly in front of us as evidence. Other women showed us how much brighter their children were after having spent their six months on the project.
It is a little over two years since Mission Rwanda started the Rutonde porridge project. Children who had been malnourished are being given a real boost and improvements to living standards at home mean that they are fed more regularly at home. The introduction of goats and rabbits into the community is making a real difference to people's lives by allowing families to support themselves. What is most pleasing is that in a real way, Rutonde appears to be developing from its own efforts.