Hi all, it’s Annie, one of Spark’s interns in Rwanda, with some great news on the association of Tubeho in the Southern Province!
It’s been a month since our last report on Tubeho (“Let’s Survive” in English), a group of about 100 HIV+ members who have collectively drafted a proposal with Spark to keep bees and to produce and sell honey. The association received a $13,000 grant from the U.S. Embassy for this project and has been anxiously awaiting their first installment. We are excited to report that it is finally ready!
The association meets together every Wednesday. On July 13th, I traveled to Tubeho with one of Spark’s facilitators, Rita, to check in, to talk to some community members, and to begin monitoring and evaluation of the grant. We arrived to find many members working hard to clear the plot of land where they plan to keep their hives. They told us they were eager to receive their first installment, and were doing everything possible to begin their project without the money. By our next check in on July 20th, bricks had been built and laid out in the sun to dry.
Sitting down to speak with community members, a feeling of solidarity was strong throughout the group. We “have come together as HIV positive persons, which was not the case before” said one community member. Another commented, “Now we share, we are no longer lonely.” Stigmatized for years by their larger community for their disease, members have joined together to prove they are equally capable and in charge of their own futures. “Before, [our larger community] was not accepting, but nowadays they are accepting us” said one woman. With proceeds from their honey business, Tubeho plans to educate others about the stigma of HIV.
Tomorrow, Tubeho will receive their check from the Embassy. With these funds, they will be able to purchase necessary building materials and to receive training in bee keeping. More updates to come as Tubeho begins to implement their grant!