Today we met with Gardens for Health International, an NGO that provides agricultural solutions to childhood malnutrition throughout Rwanda. After meeting the organization's staff, we drove to their field offices and met with Liberatha, a beneficiary of the program.When we got to the house, children piled around the car curious about who we were and why we had cameras and equipment. Liberatha welcomed us with her bright smile, holding her daughter, Noelle, and standing proud in front of her home garden. As we interviewed the mother, she explained the different crops she grows in her garden and how Gardens for Health International has helped empower her as a women, enabling her to provide healthy food to her family.
Afterwards, we returned to the main office for lunch. Local women farmers cook a mix of delicious beans, rice, kale, and dodo all grown in the organization's garden. Everyone is welcomed and accepted, no matter their socio-economic class. The volunteers and staff eat lunch outside on a long, wooden farmer's table. We were lucky to receive an invitation to join them and hear more about the GHI's inception, mission, and success stories of beneficiaries.
ETL is notorious for having moments of serendipity and dumb luck. One of these special moments occurred today when Julie Carney, co-founder of Gardens for Health, surprised the community by visiting from the U.S. while on Holiday Break. Julie's humble and warm spirit is contagious and apparent from the first time you shake hands with her. She allowed for our team to ask her to interview her, giving us a better look at how GHI was started, and the impact it has had on the community over the last few years. She emphasized the impact agriculture can have on the health of one's family such as combatting child malnutrition, being able to afford medical insurance, generating an income, and sending their children to school. A New Jersey native and globe trotter, Julie described the strong connection women farmer's around the globe share in the hard work they conduct day-to-day under the scorching sun.
Tomorrow we will meet with other families and beneficiaries of the Gardens for Health International program!
~ Brennan & Anna