A Rwandan Tradition

Umuganda1

Our trainees spend a lot of time visiting the people who grow and supply our coffee and tea. We asked Becky, who travelled alongside fellow trainee Jamie, to write about some of her experiences. Here’s her second report.

Pictured on the right – Becky and Jamie digging in Karengera, Rwanda.

“During our visit to Rwanda, Jamie and I had the unexpected opportunity to take part in a very old and very special Rwandan tradition with some of our coffee farmers: Umuganda.

“In Rwanda, Umuganda means ‘coming together in common purpose’ and in traditional Rwandan culture community members would perform Umuganda to help their friends, family and neighbours with difficult tasks such as building houses.

“In an effort to reconstruct Rwandan society in the wake of the 1994 genocide, the Rwandan government drew on the idea of Umuganda to create a monthly national day of community building, where members come together to work to make their communities better.

“As everyone volunteers to take part on the last Saturday of every month, Jamie and I were no exception. We donned our hiking boots and headed out with Ignace Ntazinda, from our suppliers KZ Noir, to help dig a water channel near Karengera, on the shores of Lake Kivu.

“Many of the farmers who grow the delicious Rwandan coffee we buy were also there and lent us spades for the day so we could get stuck in. Rwanda is known as the land of a thousand hills, so mastering the climbs was tough work.

“But it was worth it, and we even got a special mention at the thank you meeting afterwards. It was great to spend time with some of our farmers working together on Umuganda. We’ll always remember it when we drink their coffee.”

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