Christine (38) is a member of a Self Help Group (SHG) which is being run by AEE Rwanda in the Bugesera District.  Just like the other people here in Bugesera and more broadly across Rwanda a lack of education and training has significantly limited her potential.  This lack of training has meant that her family has not been able to be as healthy as they could be and more broadly it has affected her ability to be active in the community. Below is her story of what being in a self help group has meant to her and what she is doing with this transformational life change

She says, “After joining the Self Help Group, I received trainings from AEE staff and community facilitators, in areas like vision casting, general family health, hygiene, sanitation and nutrition. The training was an eye opener to us as a group, as we learnt how to keep our homes clean and free from diseases and also learnt how to prepare a balanced diet out of the locally available foods to improve my family’s health.

My fellow Self Help Group members and I started practicing what we learnt, and this brought about a big change in our personal lives and the lives of our family members, especially the children. Our homes became much cleaner than before, and hygiene related diseases have reduced in our families. We also started preparing a more nutritious diet for our families, and we all became very healthy and more resistant to diseases, especially the children.

When I realized that the training brought a big difference in my family and the families of my fellow SHG members, I made a decision to train other women who have not had an opportunity to receive the same training. I took this decision so as to help them make the changes I have been able to in my family. For a start, I trained 13 women in different topics, with an emphasis on health, hygiene, sanitation and nutrition. As I have a kitchen garden (these are a small circular garden which allows the easy growing of a variety of vegetables to promote healthy eating) already established near my house, from which I get vegetables for our meals on a regular basis, I invited the women to come to my home and I demonstrated to them on how to establish a garden like this and they now have copied this in their own houses. They have told me that they now have various vegetables in their gardens and are preparing a more balanced and nutritious meals for their families. This, coupled with other health practices that they have learnt from me and indirectly from AEE Rwanda, has brought about a great improvement in the health of their family members.

I plan to continue training other women who have not yet been trained, and I encourage the ones that have been trained to pass on the same training to other women, so that more and more people can hear about this. Besides this, due to the success that I have seen with kitchen gardening, I want to do it on large scale, so that I can sell the vegetables at the market place and make money to further improve the welfare of my family.”

I’m really so thankful to AEE Rwanda and the donor, for allowing me to be a member of the self help group, and for offering me with trainings which have changed my life and family, the families of my fellow SHG members, as well as other non SHG members in our neighbourhood!