Danielle (left) with Mukaremera Donatilla (second from left) and Holindintwali Cyprien and their family. (photo credit: Bernard Pollack)
This is the second in the four-part series on my visit to Heifer International projects in Gicumbi District in Rwanda.
Holindintwali Cyprien is a 40-year old farmer and livestock keeper in Gicumbi District, outside of Kigali in Rwanda. But he hasn’t always been a farmer. After the genocide in the 1990s, he and his wife, Mukaremera Donatilla, 40, were school teachers, making a about $USD 50.00 monthly. Living in a small house constructed of mud, without electricity or running water, they were saving to buy a cow to help increase their income. And when Heifer International started working in Rwanda almost a decade ago, Cyprien and Donatilla were chosen as one of the first 93 farmers in the country to be Heifer beneficiaries. Along with the gift of a cow, the family also received training and support from Heifer project coordinators.
Today, they’ve used their gift to not only increase their monthly income—they now make anywhere from $USD 300-600 per month—but also improved the family’s living conditions and nutrition. In addition to growing elephant grass and other fodder—one of Heifer’s requirements for receiving animals—for the 5 cows they currently own, Cyprien and Donatilla are also growing vegetables and keeping chickens. They’ve built a brick house and have electricity and are earning income by renting their other house.
Although Heifer trained them how to collect water with very simple technologies using plastic bags, Cyprien took the training a few steps further and installed his own concrete tank. In addition, Cyprien has enough money to invest in terracing his garden to prevent erosion, a necessary farming practice in this very hilly area.
And today, Cyprien is going back to his roots and making plans to teach again—this time to other farmers. He wants, he says, “the wider community to benefit from his experience.”