As we hover around the large metallic machine, I am astounded by the diversity of those gathered. Here, in the heart of Burundi's eastern province, Ruyigi, local farmers, mothers and even children from the Kyninya community have gathered to show us their accomplishments. This machine has helped to refine the hard work and efforts of many villagers into a vision for a more sustainable future. It also refines palm oil.
Food for the Hungry has targeted specific areas of development in the Kyninya region. Realizing that community transformation must stem from exactly that, the community, they have worked towards equipping leaders of the future: mothers, children, farmers. As our visit to Kyninya began, I was greatly impressed by the far reaching effects of an FH supported cassava plantation, an initiative bringing together and uniting community members from different social groups. In a field which formerly produced crops of maize, association members proudly showed us hector after hector of healthy, thriving cassava plants ready to be harvested. They demonstrated the multiple functions of the plant as they uprooted a sample, exposing the large roots and leaves (both nutritional in value) as well as multiple stems which could be replanted for further harvests. The crops are a source of economic improvement as well as pride for these rural farmers.
Our following visit to the neighbouring fields further exemplified the community benefits reaped from FH agricultural projects. Driving down rural, bumpy red dirt roads, we were met by curious stares of local villagers affected by the FH projects. Various members of the community came to watch as we toured the village palm oil fields. Mother leaders were present. These women, chosen by FH to be trained in areas of nutrition, sanitation and family care, expressed their excitement at being included in the project. They shared with us how the oil that is produced from this project can be used to enrich the nutritional intake for their families. They also informed us of their role in the project. The treasury for the palm oil production consists of two female representatives and one male. The ladies showed much pride at playing a role in the community productions. They hope to invest excess money from the crop yields in the local bank, saving for future needs. They wish to invest in their children, many of whom can now attend the local school, another of FH's local initiatives.
As we proceeded to witness the refining process of the palm oil production, we were informed that this project has been a great source of income generation. The hours spent transforming palm cherries into refined oil have not been in vain. The coordinator of the palm plantation explained the process of softening the palm fruit with boiling water and extracting the pure, pulp-less oil. The community, although only producing enough cherries to run the machine a few days a week, hopes to augment this into full time usage.Their hopes are high.