It’s often those with few options in life who really thrive in the presence of new opportunities.
Fifty-nine-year-old Leonidas lives with his wife and four children in the community of Busekera, Rwanda. For as long as he could remember, life was full of setbacks and barriers. But when opportunities came his way, he embraced each one of them. When Food for the Hungry Canada began partnership with the community of Busukera in 2011, new groups, workshops, and resources became available. Since then, Leonidas has taken on each challenge presented to him.
Years ago, Leonidas struggled. He had no animals, and no manure from animals to help fertilize his crops. His harvests were mediocre, yielding poorly on a consistent basis. Looming over him was a constant pressure to provide for his family. He was ashamed and worried about their future. His family struggled with poor health. He didn’t feel the respect of his neighbours.
This pressure pushed Leonidas to enthusiastically join the initiatives that FH presented to him. He joined a Cascade group, a Savings and Loans group, and attended agricultural workshops. With money he saved from his savings group, as well as money he’d saved from selling produce, Leonidas purchased a cow. This was the first step of many that dramatically changed his life.
With a new cow as a source of garden fertilizer and training on new farming methods, Leonidas saw an increase in his garden yields. With more vegetables, he had extra produce to sell and at a better price. Excited by this success, Leonidas began to share what he learned with his neighbours. “I will never ever hesitate to share all knowledge and skills to my community members,” he explains. He felt it was important that anyone else in the community had the same chance as himself.
Things kept on improving for his family, too. After joining the local Cascade group in his community, Leonidas was able to share with his family important hygiene practices, which he reports have cut down on illnesses in his family and on costly medical bills.
Leonidas can hardly contain himself when he counts his blessings. “I feel valued by both God and Busekera community members. My household economy has improved. My dairy cow is contributing to the nutrition of my family and in the education of my children. I can now always eat vegetables. Other farmers are learning from me. My family and home is hygienic—all because of [your] interventions. God bless...!” says Leonidas.
Where once was a struggling farmer and worried father, there now stands a hopeful and outgoing leader. Others in the community now look to Leonidas as an example.
After years of hard work to end poverty, Leonidas’s community of Busekera is preparing to graduate from partnership with FH in the near future.