This family of five, two parents and three children where doing laundry and bathing near lake Kivu in Rustiro District. The father of the family was doing laundry while the wife was washing the children. I approached the family and asked them why they were doing this. The man responded that they had no access to water at home. Every day, after working on their farm, this family comes to shower in the lake and clean their essentials. They also fetch water to take home with them for cooking and cleaning utensils and the house. The mother also brings the children in the morning to wash before school. This family is just one of the numerous families who have no other option than to use water from the lake due to no access to clean water. According to UNIVEF Rwanda, 25% of the population is still unable to access safe drinking water, while 26% of the population has no access to sanitation facilities. Rural areas are more affected.
Bonifilda Nyirabunani is a 37 year old woman with six children. She did not have a chance of studying and is saddened to see others her same age having a better life due to their education. The genocide in Rwanda took place when she was 13 years old she was forced to flee to the Congo(D.R.C) with her family. They remained there as refugees for 7 years. When they returned to Rwanda she was 20 years old and too old to restart school. The eldest of her children also left school because of lack of school fees. Her other five children are still in primary school. She is a contributor to Beyond Gorilla Experience.She teaches tourists the Rwanda village lifestyle like peeling potatoes, washing clothes and basket weaving. This work allows provides money for school materials for her children.
“I had a good time when I was a teenager because I liked to play with my big sister during the night. We would play at the river naked. I was the youngest child in our family. Things changed when I got married because it was my hardest time. I didn’t find happiness in my marriage. My husband and I had nine kids, three boys, and six girls. My first four kids were girls and my husband decide to marry other wives because he said he needed a boy. He now has three other wives in addition to myself. In total, he has four wives and 36 children. He used to come home once a year and I would spend the time taking care of the kids alone. The best advice I can give to the youth is to protect themselves from having sex before marriage. During my teenage years, when a young girl had sex with a man they would take her on an island that is located in Lake Kivu. With that punishment, we all feared to have sex and it was in our nature. When a man was dating you, you would be surprised to meet him during the marriage day. This custom protected us from becoming pregnant.”
Children drink banana juice before leaving for school. Their parents work to process Rwanda traditional beer from bananas. This is a common practice in the countryside of Rwanda. Children often test juice first.
Sendegeya is a blacksmith whom I met in Gaharawe center Nyabihu 1. Sendegeya is a blacksmith in Gaharawe center Nyabihu District in the Western Province of Rwanda. He is the only person in Gaharawe that fixes bicycles, motorbikes and forges objects out of metal.
New Year is the favorite holiday in Rwanda, especially in countryside where people save together so that at the end of the year they can buy a bull for a New Years meal. This practice is common in Rwanda when people are unable to afford to buy meat themselves. Saving cooperatives sallow for them to have special meals at the end of the year. Each person needs to save 100 Rwandan francs per week to afford the cow. Happy New Year.
The young man knows the rules, but the old man knows the exceptions. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. My old man taught me a lot of stuff in his death that I don't even know if he would have been able to teach me had he been alive.
“While immersing myself in art I tried to draw as much as I could and posted my work on social media such as Facebook, linkedIn and WhatsApp. I would then go get feedback from followers and get different clients that way. This is how I enhanced my skills in portraits making. Within three years, I had started teaching painting to anyone who was willing to paint or aspired to be a painter but I didn’t have a chance to study art. I would use my house as a studio where all the students gather to make art. I had more than 50 students in my studio and today many of are making a living using the skills I taught them. My favorite portrait that I have did in my early days was a portrait of Her Excellency, Jannette Kagame. I would love to give this portrait to her if I can find a way. I’m not sure how that will happen since I don’t have access to her but I hope that I will find a way. More than anything I would love to give it to her myself. I am Serge Niyonsaba.”
“My name is Kodo and I am 24 years old. I have one boy who is three years old. I didn’t have a chance to live with his mom because we had our son when we were very young. She was 20 years old and I was only 21, so I didn’t marry her because our parents said that we are too young for marriage. Today, I have a new girlfriend. It has been almost four years without seeing my son’s mom so I met a new girlfriend. My son’s mom and I used to live in the same village, but she moved to Uganda with her parents after finishing high school while she was pregnant. It was very hard for me to have a kid at 21 without a job and while I was still living with my family but with God’s help I tried to take care of him. I am happy because I am now able to feed him and pay his school fees. He is currently attending a preschool in Kampala, Uganda. With this responsibility, I am not able to go to university. I moved from Rubavu to Kigali to look for a better living. I am a cartoon artist based in Kigali, Rwanda. It is through this work that I earn a living. My advice to young people is to always remember to use protection while making love to their girlfriends/boyfriends.”
Love is the most powerful force in the world. It can make you happy. It can make you cry. It can make you do things you never imagined. There’s nothing quite as thrilling as falling in love. Nevertheless, staying in love like is not easy, and it requires a bigger effort.
Nyiranganyirende Bonifirida is a Rwandan traditional witch-doctors. I witnessed children mimicking her and trowing stones at her because they believe her to be a witch. I spent time with her and she shared her story. “I am a witch doctor for more that 67 years. I started this when I was 12 and now I am 79. I can heal people who are poisoned by their enemies, get back stolen things and tell the future.” She said that she could give me a medicine that makes fumes to attract girls as a new year gift.
“My name is Ugenimana Josiane and I have a husband and three children. My job is to trade different commodities in exchange for small fish known as Sambaza. I wake up at 4:00 am every morning to trade with the fishermen. I usually take avocados, tomatoes, groundnut flour and sweet potatoes with me, and trade them for Sambaza.I have been in this business for the past three years. In these years I have managed to build a house, buy a boat and feed my children. I leave home at 4am and get back at 10pm. After getting the Samabaza, I bring them to my hometown to sell at a reasonable price. My husband understands and he has no issue with my profession. He is a fisherman. I encourage my fellow women to work and develop themselves and not to neglect any job opportunities that come their way because working is a good thing.”
This old man is cleaning his shoes before putting them on. This simple act is a significant change. Just a few years ago people typically only wore shoes on special occasions such as Christmas and New Years.
1. Claudine holding her third child. I met Claudine at Munyove Adventist Church at Bunyohe hill, in Mundende Sector, Western Province of Rwanda. She asked me to take a picture of her and her child as a souvenir. She said that her little one brings happiness to the family. Before having her youngest child, she used to fight and quarrel with her husband. At one point, she couldn’t endure the pain and so she decided to leave her husband. After speaking to her family and friends, they helped her reconcile with her husband and she decided to move back. Her husband changed when she gave birth to her youngest daughter because they now had a girl in the family. He completely changed his bad habit of beating her up and now they are living together happily with their three children.
“I am Nyirabageni Adeline, but my friends like to call me Mama Kwizera. Kwizera is my first born and she is 22 years old. I also have three sons. When I was a young girl I used to see my parents fighting every time my father came home. He would come home once a year and spend a week at home fighting with mom. My father had 7 wives and more than 45 children. Because of that, he didn’t care much about my mom or siblings. My father passed away in 1994, he was a victim of HIV/AIDS. We are 10 children from my mother’s side. When I turned 12, I had to take on the responsibilities of my father to help my mother take care of the family. Our dad’s behavior brought us closer to each other as a family as we had to learn how to deal with his anger together in order to survive. It broke my heart every time I saw my father beating up my mother, especially when she was pregnant.”
Jean-Paul Gisembe, 57 year old man with five children; three boys and two girls. Both his daughters married at age 18. His oldest son moved to the town if Gisenyi, Rwanda in search of a better life while his second son moved in with his boss whom he shepherds goats for. Gisembe now lives with his youngest son who was the only children to receive an education. They live in Nyabihu District, Western Province of Rwanda. Gisembe never understood the importance of education. As a child he was discouraged by walking 20 kilometers to attend school while his friends stayed at home drinking milk or making money by farming their lands. He is now grows potatoes for a living. He obtained his farming experience from watching others farm their potatoes, sorghum and corn. Contrary to what he imagined, leaving school for a farming life did not make him rich. He owns his house but does not own a farm. Gisembe dreams of contributing to his country by working hard for his boss so that he can pay taxes which will help the government build more schools for the next generation of children.
Kid hands shelling fresh peas when they are preparing Urunyogwe (urunyogwe is a Rwandan traditional good of flesh potatoes mixed with flesh peas, it is very delicious food).
A man making traditional homemade beer from bananas in Rustiro Western Province of Rwanda. This region is known for having a lot of banana-beer consumers. Children even leave school because of the income they earn from banana-beer production and selling. This type of beer can be found in Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. This man is an expert in banana beer making. Everyone in his village calls on him for his beer knowledge. He left school to pursue this tradition and earns his living from the trade.
Mediatrix Nyirasafari, a 36 years old seamstress began working with the A.JE.C.L sewing cooperative when she was 23 years old. With the first loan of 50,000 Frw, she bought a sewing machine. Between her sewing and bee keeping earnings she helped pay for her three sisters school fees as well as rent for her home. Kigali, Rwanda; November 28th, 2017.
“My names is NIYIRERA Vedaste. I am from Rutsiro district in Rwanda. I came to Rubavu to seek a better living situation. I first learned how to swim when I was 18 years old. I did not do well in school. Because of that I decided to quit and become a fisherman. I worked hard to develop my fishing skills and it helped me develop in life. As you can see, I don’t have many problems. I now have a family of my own, a wife and two children, and we are happy. Being a fisherman helps me take care of them. Today fishing is going well, but sometimes the Sambaza die, whiles in other times, they disappear. All thanks to God, the fish are coming back to this side of the lake. Currently, we may fish 40 kg of fish compared to the past few years when we would only catch 10 kg. Our customers are always happy and even our boss are thanking God. They have been recruiting more people, especially student dropouts. They bring them, teach them to fish and then show them how they can use the skills to earn money. We have fewer beggars on the street now because these kids are now being occupied and making money to take care of their basic needs instead of standing on the road begging. I completely rely on my job as a fisherman. For example, when I make 1000 frw a day, I eat 500 frw and save the other half because I want to develop myself. I understand that I need to work hard because fishing is not an easy job for everyone. Also, I don’t want to stay behind while others are developing. Fishing calls for one to be patient and strong. Many people disgrace our occupation saying that it’s for smokers, alcoholics, drug addicts, but we are not all like that. Some of us are working hard with a vision. If we leave this job or get old, we will still be able to sustain ourselves.”
I met this man in Remera Cell, Rutsiro district in western province of Rwanda washing his clothes in the lake. He told me that in this area to get pure water is a big issue and many of them use water from the lake Kivu in their daily life.
Étienne Twiringiyimana is a businessman for 12 years since he got a chance of attending workshops and training on how to became businessman or entrepreneur, that gives him the ability to save his income from his small shop and he joined Saving and Loaning cooperative for 10 years.
He took a loan of 500,000Frw in his cooperative that he has to pay in 2 years but with his small shop and the new business of agriculture he started, he was able to pay back his loan in 8 months.
Now he has houses and lands, his shop and two cows that help him to fight against malnutrition in his family.
In most rural areas of Rwanda while parents are farming, children usually collect firewood for cooking. This boy is carrying firewood in Rustiro district. In Rwanda prohibits people from cutting down trees without permission from the sector’s agronomist.
A few important rules to teach your daughter:
• Travel light through life. Keep only what you need.
• It’s okay to cry when you’re hurt. It’s also okay to smash (some) things; but, wash your face, clean your mess, and get up off the floor when you’re done. You don’t belong down there.
• If you’re going to curse, be clever. If you’re going to curse in public, know your audience.
• Seek out the people and places that resonate with your soul.
• Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
• 5-second rule. It’s just dirt. There are worse things in a fast food cheeseburger.
• You are a woman, you do not need a man!
• Happiness is not a permanent state. Wholeness is. Don’t confuse these.
• Never walk through an alley alone. • Be less sugar, more spice, and only as nice as you’re able to without compromising yourself.
• Can’t is a cop-out. • Hold your heroes to a high standard. Be your own hero.
• If you can’t smile with your eyes, don’t smile. Insincerity is nothing to aspire to.
• Never lie to yourself.
• Your body, your rules.
• If you have an opinion, you better know why.
• Practice your passions. • Ask for what you want. The worst thing they can say is no. • Wish on stars and dandelions, then get to work to make them happen.
• Stay as sweet as you are.
• Fall in love often. Particularly with ideas, art, music, literature, food and far-off places.
• Fall hard and forever in love with nothing but yourself.
• Say Please, Thank You, and Pardon Me, whenever the situation warrants it.
• Reserve “I’m sorry” for when you truly are.
• Naps are for grown-ups, too.
• Question everything, except your own intuition. • You have enough. You are enough.
• You are amazing! Don't let anyone ever make you feel you are not. If someone does....walk away. You deserve better.
• No matter where you are, you can always come home.
• Be happy and remember your roots, family is EVERYTHING.
• Say what you mean and mean what you say.
• No one will ever love you more than I do.
• Be kind; treat others how you would like them to treat you.
• If in doubt, remember whose daughter you are and straighten your crown.
Copy, paste and post a picture of your daughter(s)
Secondary schools and Highschools even primary schools in Rwanda have to take an example to this one we find in Nyanza (Ecole Secondaire Nyanza) that teach their students to make chicken gardens and to know how to grow some crops like beans, cabbages, onions etc.. so they can help their parents to fight against malnutrition in our country.
My wife is beggar and I drink Urwagwa all day, says 28-year old man in Rwanda’s West, I have been in jail more than four years because of raping an under-eighteen girl (teenager). After that I decided to marry a Rwandan a wife from Batwa community as I expected her to work hard and earn a living even for me. Working hard is not my passion what I like is just drinking beer and my favorite beer is Banana beer (Urwangwa). What I like the most on my wife is that she wakes up in the morning and gives me 500 Rwandan francs that I will be using all the day in drinking beer then we meet in the evening after her work. “Her work is begging from farmers and rich people’s homes”. With my wife I don’t have to work, she is there for me and no one can go have sex with girls from Batwa tribe without my permission, I am like a king of Batwa in my area.
Chantal Nyiramahirwe is a 27-year-old woman with two kids. She lives in Kinigi Musanze District in the Northern Province of Rwanda. She stopped going to school when she was 17 years old to get married. She has done family planning, which helped her learn the importance of having children that she had the ability to care for. Today her firstborn is 10 and the second is 5 years old. Most of the women of her age have more than 4 children. It is uncommon for women in Rwanda to receive family planning education. Rwanda is experiencing a dramatic population increase. The challenge for the future is how to balance the population with the lack of available land and diminishing natural resources. The government exhorts its populations that one family can have three children.
A young shepherd looks at a smartphone for the first time while sitting under his cattle barn where he lives with his cows. Gishwati-Mukura National Park.
Beatrice Uwimana tastes a meal she has prepared for lunch while waiting for her children to return from school. In the countryside it is often difficult for mothers to prepare lunch for their children during farming season.
“My name is Mango. I am Congolese but I live in Rwanda. I have been in Rwanda for more than 22 years but I am not a refugee. When I was a young kid my wish was to be a priest but now I am a bouncer in a bar because I disobeyed my parents. They told me to go to school but I refused. At age 13 I started using drugs and before I knew it I was a drug addict. Until now I cannot sleep without smoking weed or cigarettes and due to this habit I missed my chance of going to school.”
Rwandans enjoy eating beetroot but entrepreneur Assumpta Uwamariya has found a novel use for the vegetable - turning it into a red wine that has proven popular with customers in several African countries and even as far away as Germany.
Unable to find a job after graduating from university, Uwamariya started growing beetroot for a living and then learned how to turn it into a rich, earthy red wine known as “Karisimbi”.
The 27-year-old now grows beetroot on a three-hectare farm in the Rubavu district of western Rwanda, employing 17 people. She also buys the vegetable from local farmers.
The beetroot is gathered, washed, cut into small pieces, boiled and left to ferment. She produces around 620 liters a week but hopes to more than double that by next year. She currently sells about 1,000 bottles every month.
Most of her customers are in Rwanda, including the capital Kigali, as well as in Mozambique and Democratic Republic of Congo, she said.
“I also found out that I have customers in Germany. I don’t now how my wine got there, but they told me that they tasted my wine and started ordering from me afterwards. Some of them even came all the way here to see me and buy wine,” Uwamariya said.
“I’m 16 and I have a 4 month old baby. I was in senior 2 (8th grade) when I got pregnant and had to leave school. I am now at home taking care of my little one. The problem I have is that after telling my boyfriend who was then 17, that I was pregnant he blocked me from all contacts. He doesn’t help me to take care of our kid.” Said Batamuriza Agnes.”