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Livelihoods - Integrated Child Focused Community Transformation

A Transformation From Self-Ridicule to Self-Worth

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WRITTEN BY FH Burundi

At Food for the Hungry (FH), we believe every person has been created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). Our hope is for every man and woman to feel self-worth and dignity through Christ, especially in their roles as caretakers and providers for their families. Therefore, through Strengthen Communities, we work with local community leaders to build up communities and encourage individuals as part of our mission to address the root causes of poverty.

Through the Meaningful Gifts given by supporters like you, Gervais, a father of six from Burundi, experienced a newfound sense of self-dignity as a family provider.

Living With the Burden of Self-Ridicule

Gervais lives with his wife and their six children in the Muhindo community in Burundi, a landlocked country in the African Great Lakes region of East Africa. Gervais and his family’s main source of income comes from a half-hectare lot of land, which they use for banana plant farming.

Gervais' three youngest children enjoy showing their father what they learn in school.
Gervais’ three youngest children enjoy showing their father what they learn in school.

Before his involvement in FH, Gervais yielded an annual banana crop of only 10 bunches due to insufficient rainfall and scarcity of manure as fertilizer. He was able to sell his crop for 5,000 Burundian Francs ($1.73 USD) each. To supplement his income, Gervais harvested 40kg of beans and 10kg of maize; however, this was still insufficient to fulfill the family’s needs. Consequently, they found it difficult to afford food, and their children were in declining health and lacked the necessary school materials.

“It was difficult to afford food for the family and children were challenged at school,” Gervais confirmed.  “I felt ridiculous because I saw that I was not able to provide for the family.”

The Transformative Journey to Self-Worth

Gervais’ journey to self-worth started with Meaningful Gifts of banana plants, seeds, a cow, and training to make fertilizer out of manure. Consequently, the next banana crop yielded seven bunches, much more than the two bunches per harvest he had seen previously. The family consumed three bunches and sold the other four for 30,000 Burundian Francs each ($10.40 USD). Gervais also took in a supplementary harvest of 200kg of beans and 250kg of maize. He has continued progressively increasing his harvest through training from Farming God’s Way, a biblical-based agriculture management program.

Gervais implementing the agricultural techniques he learned in the Farming God's Way trainings.
Gervais implementing the agricultural techniques he learned in the Farming God’s Way trainings.

Additionally, Gervais and his wife, Pascasie, have become members of a local Cascades Savings Group, which offers a wider range of training modules on livelihood, health, and education. This is an amazing opportunity, particularly for Pascasie, as the region doesn’t traditionally support women working. They have purchased two goats with their additional income and can financially support their children’s education.

Impacting Lives Through Strengthening Communities

For Gervais, the days of self-doubting are now replaced with a sense of pride at what he and his family have achieved. ”I have a feeling that I am important in my family because I can now manage to satisfy a number of needs,” he confirms.

Instead of focussing on daily survival, Gervais now aspires for each of his children to gain a university education. His plans for a hopeful future don’t stop there: Through the generous support of donors to Strengthen Communities, Gervais wants to use his training to make a significant impact in his community. “I also wish to help many households in my community get banana plants and grow them in order to make money from them.”

Gervais, his wife Pascasie, and five of their children.
Gervais, his wife Pascasie, and five of their children.

Gervais is also delighted that community members have adopted similar seed-sowing techniques to those he acquired, which generates income and prevents nearby deforestation. Additionally, increased participation in savings groups has resulted in an improved standard of living for the community as a whole. With the generous support of Strengthen Communities, FH has also installed a water tap 1km away for communal use, which is a vast improvement from the former source 3km away.

Serving Communities Together

Romans 12:10 states, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”

Gervais’ story is just one example of how partnering with FH and local communities honors individuals to become the men, women, and children who God created them to be. Through your donation of a Meaningful Gift, we can continue to work together through Strengthen Communities to provide families such as Gervais’ and, by extension, other members in their communities a brighter future.

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You may send small, flat paper-based items that can fit into a standard #10 size envelope, have a value of less than $5 dollars and weigh less than 4 ounces. We ask that you send small, flat items of this size because shipping is expensive and even small gift items can cause issues clearing customs.
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