Wendy and John Taekema, of Leduc, AB, got to see the impact of Foodgrains Bank programming up close and personal on a recent Food Study Tour to Kenya and Rwanda. The group of 12 participants consisted of Canadians from seven different provinces and representing several Foodgrains Bank members.
Scheduled visits included food distributions and nutrition projects of World Renew (CRWRC) in Kenya, and a goat restocking project in a Maasai community organized by Mennonite Central Committee. The group then traveled to Rwanda, which included a home stay visit.
The Taekema’s stayed for two nights in the home of Vestine (mother) and Celestin (father) and their six children, who live in Mugogo, Rwanda. This family is participating in the five-year project with Canadian Baptist Ministries to support the livelihoods of small-scale farmers.
“We walked to their pineapple fields & also saw their banana plants, their maize, their irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, beans & cassava plants. Many of their crops are grown together, there is no wasted space on their land. They picked some of the pineapple, and just cut it up in the field and we all shared pieces of pineapple which were so incredibly sweet and good,” Wendy explained.
Staying with this family gave the Taekema’s a chance to see and hear about the details of life in Rwanda and how the project made a real difference in their lives.
“Before the project they had very little. They had to sell their goat, they were eating their seeds, selling the tin from their roof. They were making about $1.00/day. After receiving the pineapple seeds their income increased to about $1600 – $1700/year within the first 2 years.”
John and Wendy also heard about the challenges faced by farmers in this community. “Vestine explained to us, ‘Although there are times when the rain does not come and dries out the crops, and sometimes the rain is too much and the water erodes the soil, where the manure is, the crops are better.’ Also, through this program, they have learned how to mulch to keep moisture in, and better ways of terrace farming to help stop soil erosion.”
John was able to address the community gathered for a food distribution near the coastal region in Kenya, where repeated droughts have affected many of the rural communities and increased hunger in the region.
“This is what it’s all about, for us. This is why we do what we do with our growing project year after year,” John shared while reflecting on the experience.
At the end of the food distribution, Paulo Gitala, the local pastor, stood up to share his gratitude. “If it wasn’t for love, you wouldn’t have done this. This is a lot of work for one to do for another. You are following the Scripture that says ‘Love your neighbour as you love yourself.’”
If you are interested in hearing more stories about their trip you are welcome to join them on Sunday, January 20th at 7:30 pm at Ebenezer Church. The church is located south of Rollyview Road, on Gaetz Road, just south of the new Robinson Subdivision. Everyone is welcome.