Rwandan communities learning from each other
A new outcome of our work together
In 2011, the Twa (Pygmies) of Rwanda left their isolated forest life to enter into modern Rwandan society as farmers and entrepreneurs. In 2012, 50 Twa adults and their children came together to form the Abakundana (“People Who Love Each Other”) Cooperative in the southwest tip of Rwanda on the Burindi border. There are now 340 co-op members. World Dance has been helping them realize their vision for a new life with donations of goats, student stipends, and help starting a sewing business.
The Abakundana need to make major improvements on their marginal land to get more production. They heard about our Cokawi co-op, a group of women with AIDS who have turned their marshland into farmland, thanks to a World Dance donation. They raised funds to travel across the country, and, on December 5, 2014, 18 Pygmies arrived at Justin’s house, ready to learn from Cokawi, and experience the big city.
There was no way we could have ever imagined what has happened with the Twa (Pygmy) community. They have come out of their isolated forest world and experienced a sense of real community, of loving and being loved, celebrating and being celebrated. I was so much excited about their dream of coming to Kigali to meet the Cokawi co-op and see what they have achieved. Together, we worked out a way to make it happen, but I wasn’t sure if it would, as it is a long journey and only one of the group had even been to the city.
These people are so courageous and dedicated. They started collecting a small amount of money from the members to send a group to Kigali to acquire knowledge about farming and bring it back for a good future of their Co-op. They saw how Cokawi turned their marshland into a farmland. They worked together in the field. They got training in farming in a new way. And they toured a city for the first time. What a great experience to have these wonderful people in our home. It was very tiring but it was the most exciting experience we ever had.
There is no way you could think that 18 people would stay at our small home but their dedication and courage caused me to accept it and it worked out. Having five women sleeping on one bed was a great teaching to my family. I am glad that giving out my blanket caused me to feel so much covered by joy during the night. Much better than how I used to feel, sleeping in my blanket. I gave a blanket in exchange to joy.
After introduction and training on turning a marshland into a farmland, they were taken to practical work together with Cokawi members. They have done such a huge work together and it was not just taking out weeds but they also expanded their relationships while working together.