Sunday, July 10, 2011

An update from Bukomero!

Hello everyone! Its Natasha, a Spark intern, with an exciting update from Bukomero!

On Saturday, I traveled down to Bukomero to conduct some one on one interviews and a community meeting. Since Bukomero has implemented their grant, I am working this summer to do some evaluation of the grant and the Spark process. In order to do this we have held large community meetings and some interviews. On Saturday I met with 5 different people, and then during the meeting I told the community that they were receiving follow up money, which was really exciting!!

After arriving in Bukomero around 10AM, I started to complete the interviews with Dama, the facilitator. In the interviews I ask questions related to the health of their animals, if they have seen an increase in their income or agricultural production from the animals, and what they think about the grant and Spark process. Each interview takes between 15-20 minutes, and so far we have been getting really great information!

On Saturday, I met with Mujawayeza, who has a truly amazing story. She received 3 chickens, and they have so far produced 7 chicks. Unfortunately 3 chicks have died (one actually got taken during our community meeting by a larger bird, it was quite an ordeal!). But two weeks ago she gave away two baby chicks to another family, which was great because she was able to pass along the grant. For me, the most amazing part of her story is that by selling eggs she has been able to double her monthly income. Before the grant she was making 500 RWF a month, a little less than a dollar, but now is making 1,000 RWF a month, which she said is because she is now able to sell eggs.

“After getting animals I opened bank account, when I get money I save, and when I have problems I can get money”-Mujawayeza

With the money from selling eggs Mujawayeza has been able to buy soap and pay for her children’s transportation to school, which she wasn’t able to pay for before receiving her animal from Spark. She has also been able to use some of the manure from the chickens in her fields to grow more vegetables. Mujawayeza has done a great job keeping her animals healthy and happy and is a real inspiration!!

Mujawayeza, on the left, handing away her animal.

Along with finding out how the animals are doing, I have also been asking people about the Spark process and if they liked working as a community to collectively develop the grant. When I ask them if they enjoy working with their community, they all respond Cyane! Cyane!, which means very much. Gatauazi Vincent is the leader of the pig group, and when I asked if the community worked together before the grant he told me:

“No, this micro-grant put us together.”-Vincent

Vincent and his family

This was very exciting to hear because one of the goals of the Spark process is to have the community come together and work as a group towards their own development. Another goal of the Spark process is to teach communities how to design and implement projects on their own, which Uwitonze spoke with me about. When I asked her if she thought the people of Bukomero could implement a project on their own without the help of an NGO she said:

“You have shown us the way, now we can do it.”- Uwitonze

Saturday was a great day spent in Bukomero not only because the interviews went so well, but because the three groups started brainstorming on what to do with their follow up money. While they have some ideas, which are centered on buying more animals, they are still working out the details. During our next meeting on Friday, I think they will finalize their plans!

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