Week 2: Musanze

Most of GHI’s trainings are now taking place in Musanze, where they partner with all 18 health centers. In our week in Musanze, we were able to go to two health trainings, one agriculture training, and two home visits. It was our first time working in the field, and we can’t wait to go back and get more content for our fundraising campaign.

Our Tuesday started early, 4:45 a.m. to be exact, as we had to get motos from Ndera to the Nyabogogo (the bus park in Kigali). Unfortunately, there are no motos in Ndera until 6 a.m., which we did not know. So naturally, we wait for an hour as everyone stares at us wondering what the heck we’re doing standing around at that hour. Eventually we catch motos and make it to the bus park for the 7:00 bus to Musanze. The two-hour drive is absolutely beautiful as you wind up and down the hills and as you leave Kigali and begin to see the volcanoes that characterize Musanze. We arrive at the Musanze bus park and walk to the GHI office in Musanze, a small room in the Ministry of Health compound, with one table, six chairs, and one wifi modem. There is no bathroom; you have to knock on the door of this room where a bunch of Rwandan men in business suits are working on something, I’m assuming health related, to ask for the key. We leave the GHI office for Busogo, where we will see our first health training. We take motos and are again blown away by the views throughout the ride. We arrive at the health center, where we are greeted by a nun who takes us to where the GHI training is happening. The health center is less a health center and more of a health compound, with multiple one-story buildings with three to four rooms that open up to the center. It is relatively quiet. The topic for the day is prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS. We are greeted by women singing, breastfeeding, and getting situated for the two-hour training. We did not have a translator, so we weren’t sure what was happening most of the time, but we did have an outline in English. Surprisingly, we actually learned a thing or two from the training… Who knew? The women are taught about how HIV/AIDS is spread, how to prevent HIV/AIDS, how to use a condom, the importance of getting tested, and how to protect their children during childbirth and breastfeeding if they are HIV positive. As the health training ends, we think it is time to leave, but we are wrong. We are going with Naomi, with the same woman that we stay with in Ndera. She is a field educator supervisor, so she attends trainings every day to assure that the field educators cover every topic in depth, answers any questions they cannot answer, and provides feedback to the GHI office. It was week five, so most of the children appeared much healthier, according to Naomi, but there was one child that did not. He barely spoke or cried out during the training, and appeared to be quite sick. Naomi sat and spoke with the mother and the hospital nutritionist for a while after the training. What we gathered from Naomi was that the child was sick, but the mother did not have the government health insurance, so she was unable to take the child to the health center. Naomi assured her that with the help of the Turi Kumwe fund at GHI, she should stay at the health center with her child until he was better… As far as we know, that is what she did. The Turi Kumwe fund was created for situations like this, where GHI staff encounter a situation where they need to act but have no funding to do so. Staff contribute part of their salary every month to a fund, and GHI matches the amount contributed, and a committee allocates the money to different situations that occur over the month. Situations range from sick children or mothers to flood, damage, or robbery. We will definitely blog more about Turi Kumwe later, but it was good to see how the fund works first-hand in a situation where it was needed.

Lucy teaching mamas about compost at the Ag Training in Bisate


Mama demonstrates how to use a condom at HIV/AIDS Training in Kinigi

We had a translator! Lucie! On Wednesday, we went to the Kinigi Health Center health training, which was also on HIV/AIDS, but this time we knew what was happening! We were greeted this time by women singing and dancing, which we were pulled into. The field educators at Kinigi were incredible, and the women watched closely, as they demanded their full attention. The women participated in the condom demonstration, asked questions, and talked about myths and facts surrounding HIV and AIDS. It was a very different atmosphere. We were able to speak with the ECD mamas at the training, where we learned about what they wanted to know more about and what they loved about their jobs. Following the health training, we went to an agriculture training in Bisate. The agriculture trainings are much smaller. The women who live close together are separated into groups of eight to ten mamas, they decide on the best house for the trainings, and the field educator comes to that house and trains them in smaller groups. The training topic was composting, which we also learned a lot about. Following the training, the women are going to organize themselves into groups to gather green material (grass, leaves, kitchen waste) and brown material (animal manure) and bring it with them at the training this week to create a compost pile. They also talked about soil degradation and how to prevent nutrient loss during the rainy season. We were able to speak with some of the mamas there after about what they love most about GHI and what they love most about their children.

Thursday we attended home visits with Danielle and Lucie to work on their piece for pro-poor growth, agriculture, and how they interact. One home visit was in Busogo and one was in Kinigi. The visit in Busogo was a mama currently enrolled in the growing season, who showed us her garden and her cow and explained how already GHI has taught her how to cook better for her family and sell more products at the market. In Kinigi, we actually met with a GHI papa, who had a crazy story. He was born in Rwanda, but fled to Tanzania during the genocide, when he was very young. He was separated from his family, though he knows most of his family did not survive. He spent the rest of his life in Tanzania, where he got married, and had five daughters. Eventually, Tanzania decided it was time to move some of the Rwandans back to Rwanda, as the Rwandan government had land and built houses for them. He was forced to leave his wife and family, with the exception of 2 daughters that he was to take with him. He was moved to Kinigi, where he knew nobody. In 2014, he was enrolled in the GHI program, and fortunately, Lucie had interviewed him then. She was shocked at how much his life had improved. He had moved to a new house, participated in a savings cooperative, grew onions for profit, fed his family almost entirely from his garden, and rented a plot of land where he grew Irish Potatoes (very profitable). He had plans to grow garlic soon (the most profitable at 3,000rwf per kilo). While we haven’t seen how different families have been impacted from GHI, we could tell that this was not entirely uncommon. Unbelievable progress, all from giving people the tools to do it themselves.

Cow from the home visit in Busogo

What an eye-opening few days in the field.

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