Last year we expanded our porridge project in Rutonde into a neighbouring parish called Bibungo. Although the porridge was a benefit to the community, Jean d'Amour, the pastor who manages the project, decided that the need in another parish called Rimwe was greater.
So the other day we set off into the hills to visit our latest group. Rimwe (literally 'One') lies a kilometre away from Rutonde. The rains have not yet started and the vegetation is looking brown and dry. We were met in the church hall by around forty women and as many children. One look at them told us that this was a poorer area than Rutonde up the road. The clothes are ragged, the eyes are empty.
The porridge project has been running here for only a few weeks so it is too early to see any benefits. These are generally younger children than we have been feeding up till now and some are being breast-fed. One of the problems faced by the women here is that their meagre diet means they haven't sufficient milk for their children.
There is no quick fix in places like this. The porridge will gradually provide the children with nutrients which they are not getting elsewhere. The longer term strategy is to use goats and rabbits to gradually introduce income into the community so providing families with a means to support themselves and to improve their diet.