Help Life Rwanda, a civil service non-governmental organization here in Rwanda that I volunteer with, will soon be implementing a great new program in one of Rwanda’s poorest areas. This area in the Western Province of the country has a very high population of children younger than 18 and the people there have, in general, fewer opportunities for development. Help Life Rwanda (HLR) focuses on the country’s most vulnerable people, so it makes perfect sense to focus energies there.
We’ll start the project focusing on ten of the most vulnerable families in two villages in the Nyabihu district. These would likely include child-headed households. After the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, the extraordinarily high number of orphans resulted in constructed families: children organized themselves into families and chose a mother and father from within this family group.
Imagine being elected mom when you’re a child yourself with no mother.
Other types of vulnerable families could include those headed by women or with members who have disabilities or illness.
The first phase of the project will educate and sensitize the families about sanitation and hygiene. HLR will provide small jerry cans for boiled water. Because the available water must be boiled and stored safely in order to drink it, a small container will encourage families to drink clean water and reduce water-borne illnesses. Each jerry can costs about $2.50 in US dollars.
HLR will also ensure that each of the families has a kitchen utensil draining stand. This is basically a table that allows pots, pans, plates, and utensils to air dry after being washed. Kitchens in these villages are outside and fairly rudimentary and towels are a luxury. Like small jerry cans, these stands can help reduce water-born illnesses. The stands will be built out of locally available materials by volunteer youth who will be coordinated and trained by HLR. The cost of these stands? Zip. Zero. Nada.
HLR will also provide treated mosquito nets for all the family’s beds. These are necessary to sleep under because malaria-laden mosquitoes feast at night. Rwanda is making great strides in reducing malaria, and nets are an inexpensive preventative measure to cut down on this debilitating and often deadly disease. Each net costs about $5.
Even with these measures, people still get sick, so HLR will also help pay for the household’s medical insurance for a year. Here, the national, collective health insurance covers basic illnesses, and it costs about $5.
You’re waiting to hear about the goats, right?
The second phase of this project provides a great reward for those families who improve their family’s sanitation and hygiene: HLR will provide a breeding goat that can make a substantial improvement in the family’s economic situation. The goat manure can improve the soil in the family’s garden plot, for example. The first kid produced by the goat will be donated to another vulnerable family in a type of pass-it-forward strategy. Subsequent kids, however, are the family’s to sell or to use at their discretion. Even one goat can provide the family with money, and for many of these families, it could be the only income. Each breeding goat costs about $25.
A coordinator in the village will visit the families and communicate with HLR leadership to ensure that implementation is effective. The project coordinator will receive a bicycle ($100) and a mobile phone ($25).
It’s incredible to me that around $50 can substantially improve the health of a really needy family.
If you’d like to help, please let me know. You can email me at the address on the Contact page.
Thanks in advance!