Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Nyabageni Potato Harvest Celebration

The potato farming community of Nyabageni gathered Saturday in Kinigi, Rwanda at the sector office to celebrate their first successful harvest. Although it was not as plentiful as they had hoped, they still had very much to be proud of.

“They gathered here at 9am waiting for your arrival but no one complained once,” they executive secretary of the sector said.

The celebration was set to begin at 11am but started at around 2pm (“Rwandan standard time,” some joked). We began by discussing the project and any qualms individuals had with the way things were going. The community decided to elect more members to the executive committee in order to maintain better checks and balances. It was really exciting to see them come to this decision and plan a time for voting.

This is a rather remarkable community. When Spark first arrived they were a community divided. Although they have had some bumps in the road they have been able to overcome a great deal. As soon as the speeches were over, community erupted in dance. They insisted Sasha, Darby and I dance with them although it was quite clear to Darby and I that this was not Sasha’s first time at a Rwandan celebration.

The day started early but by 3 we were all energized by how inspiring this group was. They began asking the hard questions about how they would move forward after Spark was gone and really began to take ownership of their future. Instead of asking how Spark might be able to continue supporting their ideas with another grant they started talking about how they might be able to support themselves.

One comment that really stuck with me and I’d like to leave with you here is the following: “more than food or money we have profited by the relationships [we have created] amongst ourselves.”

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