Working Together to End Hunger: Reflections from Rwanda

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Ian MacHattie is a volunteer regional representative for the Foodgrains Bank in Nova Scotia.  In January, Ian travelled with a group of supporters to visit Foodgrains Bank projects and partners in Rwanda, and learn firsthand about how fundraising efforts in Canada contribute to ending global hunger.

When asked what more the Foodgrains Bank could do to help people in Rwanda, Madina said to provide more support so neighbouring communities can also benefit.

When I used to think of Rwanda, my thoughts would immediately go to the 1994 genocide. It was difficult to avoid thinking about the nearly one million people who died.

Yet after visiting the country with ten other Canadian Foodgrains Bank supporters and staff members, I quickly learned Rwanda is much more than its past.

Meeting and observing the people of Rwanda over 20 years later is a wonderful miracle. They have not only faced the damage of that time, but they’ve also figured out a way to reconcile with each other and work toward a peaceful future.

The country has many issues, but they are positively and collectively facing their challenges – particularly when it comes to hunger.

In the Kayonza district,, one of the challenges faced by the community is erratic weather patterns caused by climate change. This year, the rainy season came six weeks after the normal planting season, which caused a major crop loss and food shortage within the community.

Through a project implemented by Foodgrains Bank member ADRA Canada, community members were supposed in growing nutritious food using kitchen gardens. They were also trained in water harvesting and irrigation techniques to adapt to the changing rain patterns.

We visited the project and met with community members who are now able to grow more and better food for themselves. Among them was a woman named Madina. When we asked Madina what we could do to help more, her answer was heartening: increase our support so neighbouring villages could also benefit.

It was she who showed me how driven the people of Rwanda are to work together toward a better future for their country. Hearing Madina ask to share the support her community receives with other villages was inspiring.

As our trip continued, I saw more Rwandan communities working collectively to increase their access to food through support from the Foodgrains Bank and its members. Once they had been given the opportunity to improve their farming techniques, many of the communities were eager to share their knowledge and assets with others.

Although there is still a lot of work to be done to end global hunger, I left Rwanda feeling hopeful.

No matter what challenges arise or persist, with continued support of generous Canadians and organizations that work alongside the Rwandan people and government, Rwanda can continue working toward a better future – a future without hunger.

We never know God’s plan, but it feels good to know we are ready and able to serve when needed.

–Ian MacHattie, volunteer regional representative in Nova Scotia