DIscovering the Dedication
Amber Robinson, media lab intern, Boston University 2015
When I started my internship with Next Mile Project, I became intrigued by the work that each of the nonprofits here does. The passion and hard work that these people put into helping others is both admirable and heartwarming.
One thing that especially stands out to me about each nonprofit is the unique approach that each one uses to make their visions for those they want to help a reality. The particular organization whose approach stands out to me is that of Gardens for Health International (GHI). GHI is a nonprofit that works in Rwanda to provide lasting agricultural solutions to chronic childhood malnutrition.
This past week I had the pleasure of meeting with GHI’s U.S. Operations Coordinator, Eve Deveau, who gave me insight into the way GHI operates. Essentially, after the parent of a malnourished child (usually the mother) has taken said child to a health clinic, the doctor will enroll them in GHI’s program.
Based on the color category a child is placed in, GHI’s employees decide if immediate help is needed. From then on, GHI begins to provide the long-term solution; they provide resources to plant a garden in the parent’s backyard, along with more information on nutrition.
The work the GHI employees do is astounding, and what perhaps is even more astounding about it, is the way it empowers people—namely the mamas of the villages.
“Her goal is just to, as she says, be a ‘shining star’ in her community,” said Deveau as she described one of the mamas that has taken the hardships she faced in life (abuse, malnutrition, etc.) and used them to empower herself, and the other women around her.
Deveau added that this seems to generally be the mindset of most of the women Gardens for Health works with. Some of the mamas have helped GHI make the curriculum simple enough to be understood by those who are illiterate. According to Deveau, women who attend their trainings return to their communities and share the information with those around them. The mamas seem to be constantly focused on sharing what they learn.
One mother in particular, Uwingeneye Francoise, is a perfect example of a mama that has learned a lot from GHI. After being orphaned, and then married at age 18 to a man that often abandons her in times of crisis, Francoise has found the strength to end malnutrition in her home.
Francoise said she, “followed the advice of the trainers,” and now her 2-year-old child, Uwicyeza Musaninge, that once weighed 5kg weighs 8kg.
“I will do all I can to keep following the lessons I have learned from the training,” said Francoise.
Thanks to GHI’s programs accompanied by Francoise’s diligence, her family is now healthy. Mamas like her, and the workers of GHI inspire, and remind me of the possibilities that arise when people work hard and help others.