Dina and Jean-Baptiste

How coffee is helping families in Rwanda not only to survive but to thrive.

Dina and her husband Jean-Baptiste were just teenagers when the Rwandan genocide began. It threatened their lives and robbed them of an education.

Before we met the family, they had been growing a few vegetables and had some coffee trees on their land. However, Dina and Jean-Baptiste were struggling to produce enough to feed their family and they earned next to nothing from their poor yield of coffee beans. Jean-Baptiste was earning money by working on other people’s land. But, the money was poor and it was an unreliable source of income.

“Some people are able to provide for their families but I have failed to do this for mine.” - Dina

Dina (40)

Dina (40)

When we met the couple for the first time, their house was in a very bad way. It was dark, damp and falling down. Dina was doing her best to care for their three children but the family were desperately hungry, often only eating one meal a day. Their cassava crop had failed, forcing them to sell precious livestock to buy food.

However, after joining our Ikawa n’Inka project less than a year ago, their lives have already started to change.

Dina and Jean-Baptiste (38) with two of their children; Dan (9) and Nadine (3). Their son Daniel (12) was at school.

Dina and Jean-Baptiste (38) with two of their children; Dan (9) and Nadine (3). Their son Daniel (12) was at school.

In English, Ikawa n’Inka means Coffee & Cows. But for families in Rwanda it means so much more.  After families can grow enough food to survive, coffee enables them to thrive. By selling their coffee beans, families can earn an income to send their children to school, make household repairs and buy other essentials such as soap and clothes.

Jean-Baptiste tending to his coffee trees

Jean-Baptiste tending to his coffee trees

Dina and Jean-Baptiste are now producing enough vegetables to feed their family two meals a day. Their beautiful gardens are brimming with different vegetables and they have a huge plot of onions neatly planted out.

Jean-Baptiste planting out more onions.

Jean-Baptiste planting out more onions.

Dina is now able to make nutritious meals for her three children.

Nadine and Dan enjoying their dinner.

Nadine and Dan enjoying their dinner.

In her garden, Dina grows lots of beetroot, but the children would pick it out of their meals when she cooked it. She has now made her own grater, using a circle of metal with punched holes, so the beetroot is too small to pick out!

Dina's ingenious contraption to make her children eat their vegetables!

Dina's ingenious contraption to make her children eat their vegetables!

Dina and Jean-Baptiste work tirelessly on their coffee crop. Despite Dina being heavily pregnant, she is driven by the knowledge that her new baby will have a better life.

Jean-Baptiste is hopeful for a big coffee harvest. Last year they were only able to harvest 70kgs. This year they have already harvested 20kgs despite it not being harvest season. He has learnt important new skills such as mulching and weeding to help protect the sensitive coffee trees.

Jean-Baptiste and Dina tending to their coffee trees.

Jean-Baptiste and Dina tending to their coffee trees.

When asked what he is most proud of, Jean-Baptiste replies: “ I am most proud of my new family harmony. That has helped me change everything.”

Dina says “Before we started working with Send a cow we did not have gender equality and harmony in our family, now we have it.”

Despite their impressive progress, Dina and Jean-Baptiste still have a long way to go. They have spent some of their income on home improvements. But, their roof still leaks and they have no source of light, making homework hard for the children.

Jean-Baptiste owns just one pair of old flip-flops and often farms bare foot. And, finding money for the children’s school fees continues to be a struggle.

Jean-Baptiste says “My hopes and dreams for the future are that my children can continue to study and go beyond where I stopped in school. Our training has opened our eyes and taught us how best to work and develop ourselves. .. it has taught us to value our lives."

Nadine practising her writing with her mum Dina.

Nadine practising her writing with her mum Dina.

With your support, once families like Dina’s reach the end of our three year project, they won’t just be surviving –they will be thriving.

Find out how your church can help this Harvest by holding an African Coffee morning.