How two students are improving nutrition for orphans through kitchen gardens

Hope for Life children where the programme will create a kitchen garden. / Courtesy.

During a visit to an orphanage in Masaka, in Kigali, 22-year-old Nadine Iradukunda, was invited to share a meal with the children. While they ate, Iradukunda who is a Mastercard Foundation Scholar studying at Ashesi University in Ghana, she wondered how the children would remain healthy and strong on a daily ration of rice and beans.

Noting a large plot of land behind the buildings where they ate, Nadine later shared her observations with fellow Mastercard Foundation Scholar Marie Aimee Nirere. Together, the two teamed up to create Healthy Us, a social venture to increase the well-being of orphans in Rwanda through a nutritional program.


The program will create a kitchen garden at Hope for Life orphanage to grow fruits and vegetables, including mushrooms, which are rich in protein and easy to cultivate. Healthy Us will concentrate on crops that contribute to a balanced diet, such as carrots, passion fruits, pineapples, and tomatoes.



Based on their estimated income and expenses, the team believes that they can yield approximately 30–50 kilograms of produce within the first six months generating $1,000.

“In the next six months, we are planning to have achieved the goal of improving the nutritional intake of the children. In addition, we hope to partner with Bridge2Rwanda, which will support us by developing entrepreneurship workshops for other orphanages, training the selected groups of youth on vegetable farming, and overseeing our project while we are in school,” said Iradukunda.

In their first year of implementation, Iradukunda and Nirere hope to replicate Healthy Us in orphanages across the country and work with farmers and organizations to learn how to effectively cultivate mushrooms. “Within a two-year period, we would love to see the venture grow beyond just satisfying the nutritional needs of the orphans and start providing more school materials for the orphanage,” said Nirere.

One of the challenges the team faces is the shortage of water, an important input for growing mushrooms. The land around the area is very dry, so they will use irrigation to sustain production.

Healthy Us won the 2019 Resolution Social Venture Challenge, a competition that rewards compelling leadership and promising social ventures led by youth.

These young leaders earned a fellowship that includes seed funding, mentorship, and access to a network of young global change-makers to pursue impactful projects in their communities. A collaboration between the Mastercard Foundation and The Resolution Project, the Resolution Social Venture Challenge provides a pathway to action for socially responsible young leaders who want to create change that matters in their communities.

“This is a chance to give back and show gratitude to the people who have believed and invested in me. Young people should not give up on their dreams for social change. They just need to think outside the box, consider what they can offer their communities, and maximize the opportunities around them,” said Iradukunda.

“Being a winner of the SVC award is a remarkable opportunity that I won’t forget.  Being an SVC winner means living up to your responsibilities to your community and fulfilling what you promised. It’s an opportunity to lead and achieve your dreams. I believe that many young people have a lot of outstanding ideas that could make Africa a problem-free continent. The secret: have the courage and self-confidence to follow your dreams, because now is the time,” added Nirere.

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