NYANZA -Two British diplomats spent three days living with rural families. They experienced firsthand what it means to live off less than one dollar a day.
The High Commissioner to Rwanda, Ben Llewellyn Jones, and Elizabeth Carriere, the Director of the Department for international Development (DfID), took part in the lives of two families in Nyanza District in Southern Province.
The most memorable moment for Llewellyn Jones was when he tilled the field with a hoe and planted beans. “I kept thinking that Rwandans endure this heavy task on a daily basis”, remarked the High Commissioner.
He was hosted by the family of 43-year- old Theophile Manayiragaba and his wife Fortunate Ntawoyangire living in Gisando village, Rwesero cell.
Llewellyn Jones slept in Manayiragaba’s house together with the couple’s four children, aged between 2 and 15 years.
Their small piece of land is less than a hectare where they grow sweet potatoes, cassava and beans, which form the family’s daily meal which the High Commissioner shared with them.
“It was amazing and really uplifting for just a couple of days to get a great experience of how ordinary people live. I was really struck by how flexible and resilient they are. The family get things done. They are happy, I really enjoyed my stay,” Llewellyn said.
He remarked that it was very challenging to wake up at 5:00 AM to go to the field because it’s different from what he does at home.
The diplomatic visit was organized and facilitated by ActionAid Rwanda.
The immersion programme of the organisation is designed to offer an experimental learning route to understand poverty in a less structured way. It’s a more flexible approach than the heavily planned meetings or workshops held in the cities.
DfID Director, Carriere, was hosted by 26-year-old Immaculate Mukandamagye, who
lives in Nyakwibereka village with her 21 year old sister. They lost their parents during the 1994 genocide against Tutsi and formed a child headed household until they reached adulthood.
Carriere was extremely emotional as she bade goodbye to her hostess
“Immaculate the strong, young, competent woman, is now like my sister. I will always remember her strength and dignity, despite what she went through. She is raising her young daughter. I love and admire her,” Carriere said solemnly.
The sisters stay in a 5-room, unfinished house. Mukandamage has a one-year- old- daughter and lives with no hope for the future since she depends on support from neighbours and a small piece of land where she and her sister grow beans and sweet potatoes.
Both women dropped out of school because they had no money.
Carriere was amazed by the spirit of Mukandamage. When they parted ways, both women cried uncontrollably.