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Elizabeth Bintliff, Heifer's vice president of Africa area programs pours milk for children at the home of Heifer beneficiary Nazaire Mutera in Rwanda.

Elizabeth Bintliff, Heifer's vice president of Africa area programs recently returned from a trip to visit projects in Rwanda. The following is part a piece she wrote reflecting on meeting Heifer beneficiary Nazaire Mutera and his wife Alphonsine. 

The moment you meet them you know that this is a couple that works well together. Nazaire Mutera along with his wife, Alphonsine, were orphaned by the Rwandan genocide in 1994. Today, they are parents of five children; four boys and one girl, and adoptive parents to an orphan. They also help provide for the many other children in their village, and none of that would be possible had they not joined a Heifer project.

“After the 1994 war and genocide, I was left helpless and without anything. All our property had been destroyed," Naziare said. However, we were lucky to survive the genocide. When Heifer was initiated in our village, were selected among others, given different trainings and the project asked us to plant grass in our plots of land. When Heifer realized that were had made enough preparations in 2008, they gave us a cow. We were very happy, and I named that cow Rukundo, which means lovebecause Heifer expressed love to us by giving us a cow that produces a lot of milk”.

After receiving a cow from Heifer, the couple admits impressive progress in their livelihood. Where they once lived in a rented mud house, without a cemented floor, they have now constructed their own home, made of concrete. Today, they have bought more land and are growing different crops. They have been able to construct a brick fence and have opened a bank account to save money received from the sale of their milk, ($150 per month). The manure from their animals led to high crop productivity on their farms, where they now employ 5 seasonal workers and 2 permanent laborers. Last season alone they harvested and sold over $1200 worth of corn and $2,000 worth of potatoes.

But apart from all these achievements they have recorded, they are also able to pay school fees for their children. Two of children are studying in secondary school while the other three are in primary school. In addition to their birth children they are raising one orphan child, who is now at university. 

The family speaks proudly of their blessings, and of their compulsion to pass them on. Every evening, they invite small children from their neighbourhood to their home, where they generously serve them warm cups of milk. On the day we visited, Alphonine asked me to serve milk to the children.

What this one couple is doing in their small part of the world is being replicated by Heifer supported farmers all over Rwanda and in fact all over Africa. 

Nazaire and Alphonsine are helping feed their entire village. They are giving children joy. Join them and give joy to a child in need. 


Annie Bergman

Annie Bergman is a Global Communications Manager and helps plan, assign and develop content for the nonprofit’s website, magazine and blog. Bergman has interviewed survivors of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, beekeepers in Honduras, women’s groups in India and war widows in Kosovo, among many others in her six years at Heifer.