Muraho! Hello from the land of 1,000 hills!
The past six weeks have been incredible living in Huye, Rwanda. As yesterday was Liberation Day, the day the Rwandan genocide ended 17 years ago, I feel that it's a perfect time to relay the progress that we have witnessed, particularly in the lives of those who participate in our women's cooperative. A few weeks ago we had the wonderful opportunity to visit almost all 50 women from last year's cooperative at their homes. We were able to meet their children, their goats, and see the land they farm. These amazing women were SO thankful for everything our program has provided them, and much of that is solely a result of the support we received from all of you. All of their children look very healthy. They have been giving them milk from their goats, which has drastically reduced Kwashiorkor (severe malnutrition). They have also been selling the extra milk for food (in addition to the vegetables they are farming themselves). And we got so lucky--all 50 of the goats we purchased for the women are healthy!! Most of them have already had between 1 and 3 babies, and many more are pregnant. The great thing about this is that once they have three extra goats, they are able to exchange them for a cow, which will produce even more milk and more manure for the fields. Cows also imply a higher status in society, giving the women much more confidence and respect.
While it was amazing to see last year's cooperative doing so well, our efforts this year are really focused on the new group of 50 women. The only thing is, there have been an average of 60-65 women at every maternal health education session! They have all witnessed the tremendous progress that their neighbors' and friends' children have made over the past year, and they are all so interested in participating. Because we don't want things to get out of hand and we want to stick to our system, we are still limiting the number of goats given to 50, despite the high numbers of people at the education sessions. However, to ensure that we're reaching the maximum number of people as we can, and to meet the need, we are considering increasing the number of women we reach every year to 100. We would do this by hosting the ten maternal health education sessions twice per year instead of just once. At the tenth session every woman receives their goat. It would be really amazing if we could do this, as we would be increasing our impact so much! But we need your help to get there!!! The waiting room in which the education sessions are now hosted is complete, and the women are all SO excited about that. But now we need more money to continue providing education, goats, and land to the mothers of the Huye District! Your continued support would be tremendously appreciated by GlobeMed, RVCP, and most importantly the mothers and children you are helping.
Unfortunately Rwandan internet does not allow us to post pictures, but upon return to the US we will be showing you pictures of the women and children you are supporting, along with pictures of their goats and land. We hope that you'll continue to stay engaged in our work and proud of the progress you have contributed to! Thank you so much again for all of your support, and we look forward to updating you more once the education sessions have been completed!
All the best,