Stories from Rwanda

Frida Mukarumongi

Frida Mukarumongi was walking by a house in her neighborhood one day and stopped to marvel at a verdant garden plot in the yard. She had to know how to get one for herself. She had grown spinach before at home, but never with any real success. She asked her neighbor, Jean Baptiste, and he was eager to not only teach her but also helped dig the garden himself. Frida lives with her husband and five of her seven children in Kageyo. She was born in Tanzania to Rwandan parents, but her family was forced back to Rwanda in 2006, and they settled where the government offered them housing. Her husband farms maize and beans on half a hectare (about 1.2 acres), but there is only enough for their family to eat, and they haven’t been able to sell after harvest.

Frida now has her own kale, carrots and beets to add to her children’s meals. Her daughter just gave birth and she took her some greens because she wants mother and baby to be healthy. “I am very happy and excited,” Frida said. “My other gardens haven’t lasted long.” She has grown several seasons in her garden now and has even trained her neighbor, Jane, and helped her build a garden. The Rwandan culture of sharing and helping others is spreading gardening knowledge faster than the Kageyo project can keep up with, which shows that a little investment goes a long way. It also shows how desperately these gardens are needed. Theo trained Jean Baptiste, who trained Frida, who trained her neighbor. With one person trained, you have limitless potential for life-giving gardens.

Written by Constance Dykhuizen and photo credit to Esther Havens