I have the distinct privilege of meeting a lot of farmers in my travels for Heifer International. I recently was in Rwanda for our Africa Area Council Meeting, and I'd like to share this story with you:
Flora Uwera lives in Gicumbi District, Rwanda. She was the Heifer International Rwanda winner of the Golden Talent Award in 2014, and I was honored to have finally met this remarkable woman on a recent visit to Rwanda.
Flora’s family house and property were destroyed in the 1994 genocide, and the death of her husband in 1995 nearly drove her to abject poverty, as she struggled to feed her children.
Flora became part of a Heifer International group and received a heifer in 2003. Growing vegetables became her passion. Her children’s health improved greatly as she fed them half of the cow’s daily 14 liters of milk. She could have earned more money by selling more of the milk, but Flora refused to compromise her children’s nutrition, saying, “They had gone so long without proper feeding.”
She recalled that her monthly income in 2003 was about $44. By 2007, it had more than quadrupled to $294. Today, she still manages to earn at least $265 from dairy per month. She has gone from barely scraping by as a subsistence farmer to a model dairy farmer, and she has gone from farming less than a hectare to five hectares of land.
Flora's resilience and self-reliance is remarkable. Shas educated all of her children, sending two of them to international universities. She has gone from a small house with a single visitors’ stool to a fully furnished, five-room house worth about $16,176. Her home is lit by biogas (fueled with her livestock’s manure), and she has piped tap water.
But her most remarkable achievement is her ability to pass on knowledge and give of herself. Her farm is a year-round demonstration farm, and Flora spends countless hours sharing her knowledge with farmers from all over the country.
Looking at her visitors’ book, she’s had learning groups from FAO, USAID, Vi-life, IFAD, AfDB and Stanford University. Visitors have come from as far as England, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Tanzania, Tunisia and the USA. I was so happy to add my name to her list.