‘We were facing malnutrition. I was alone as a widower, supporting eight children, but I did not have enough food for them.’
'They would eat once a day – a meal of beans and sweet potatoes – and they were regularly ill. How could you not be sick when you ate so little? I even believed my children could die.’
Samuel Gatare recalls his life in 2004 as he struggled to support his five children, as well as three nephews whose parents were killed during the Rwandan genocide.
He had a small plot of land but he was unable to produce enough food.
From poverty to plenty
It’s hard to imagine that life when you look around the fertile, two-hectare farm that Samuel has built up around his home in Kayonza in eastern Rwanda.
He grows pineapples, avocados and bananas and rears goats, cows and rabbits, not to mention the recent addition of four beehives and a small fish farm.
Samuel has added to his farm, step by step, through hard work and persistence.
‘When someone trains you it is better than giving you food.’
But the seeds were sown nine years ago when he met members of Christian Aid partner, Barakabaho, who offered support to people looking after foster children and orphans.
‘I went on a study trip to a farmer near Kigali and learnt how to farm vegetables,' Samuel recalls.
The building blocks of success
Barakabaho also gave Samuel seeds and a goat, which provided manure for vegetables. When the goat gave birth, Samuel gave one kid back to Barakabaho and sold the others.
Together with money he had saved from selling fruit and vegetables he bought more land.
‘I have six goats now,’ he says. ‘I got a cow in 2005. The cow gave birth to calves, so I sold five of them and gave one back to the project. I now have four cows in total.’
All this meant that when Samuel tested positive for HIV in 2006 he could still look forward to a full life for himself and his family.
He says, proudly: ‘I have fought malnutrition and every week my children eat meat. They eat twice a day. I can pay for insurance for me and my children so we have no problem paying for medicine.’
Samuel has been able to send two of his children to university and is determined that the rest will follow. He is able to give something back by passing his skills on to others in need.
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