Trip Start Jun 09, 2010
8Trip End Jun 25, 2010
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During my last day in DRC, I toured some "in-the-works" projects. Due to the success of the Commercial Integrated Farming Initiative in Rwanda, WfWI-DRC is now in the first stages of launching the country's own large-scale organic farming program. In Walungu, the densest populated territory in both North and South Kivu, 90 hectares of land was granted by the local leader at little cost to WfWI. The King of Walungu, as he is known, provided the land to WfWI participants and graduates from the area for the next 30 years. He saw the progress our participants made on the 12 hectares of land he provided for our organic training fields is benefit to his community. Next week, our agribusiness experts will analyze the soil, measure out the plots of land to be farmed and owned by the participants, and formalize a management plan for the three-year project. Like the program in Rwanda, 1000 women will be trained in organic farming techniques per year; following their year of training they will own their own plots of land and will form into large-scale cooperatives
The trainer is already providing our participants with a grab-bag of farming techniques that they will rely on after they graduate. At the training site, a large number of different crops are cultivated in a variety of methods. Tomatoes are planted using a terraced technique and a large field approach. The farmers will compare these two methods, carry out the process through harvest, and then decide on what works best for their plots of land for future cultivation. Gilbert, our Income Generation Manager, points out nearby plots of land that are owned and tended by non-WfWI farmers and shows me the differences in farming practices. You can clearly see that the WfWI land is better-organized, producing a healthier and lush crop outcome, and utilizing innovative irrigation and planting techniques. At a neighboring farm, Gilbert sees two women who are burning weeds they picked on their land. He pauses our conversation to talk with them to explain that this will make their soil infertile and that they should stop this traditional practice. He sees that some farmers, however, are copying the organization of the WfWI demonstration farm, and is pleased that some of our participants’ techniques are spreading to other plots in the community.
Gilbert then takes me to our training facility in Burhuza
Gilbert is also looking to grow the bread-making program and make the training available to more participants. Currently, 1067 women are enrolled in the bread-making vocational training, in nine out of the 12 sites in DRC. He is pleased with the initiative of the three participants and plans to help others build ovens and start a small operation in their villages as well. This way, the women can earn income while training, like the three entrepreneurs.
From guinea pig breeding to tile-making; organic farming to culinary arts; bread-making to tailoring – the participants at Women for Women International are making an investment in themselves, their families, and their communities
I can 100% report that your continued and generous support is making a HUGE difference in the daily lives of the women we serve and their families. Our staff continues to come up with innovative ways to engage our participants and ensure that they will graduate with the knowledge and skills they need to be active participants in the social, civic, and economic advancement of their communities.
Thank you to all the Women for Women International staff in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, especially: Berra Kabarungi (Country Director, Rwanda); Christine Karumba (Country Director, DRC); Gertrude Mudekereza (Director of Programs, DRC); Patrick Njakani-Okoko (Goma Sub-Office Manager, DRC); Gilbert Kajabika (Income Generation Manager, DRC), and John Chuma (Sponsorship Translator, DRC). You have made my experience in your countries very enjoyable and educational. I look forward to relaying the many stories of the women we serve and our dedicated staff to our loyal supporters.