Charlotte Musabyimana, 46, was supported under the “Eastern Province Comprehensive Nutrition and Livelihood Project for Families Impacted by HIV/AIDS”. She is a resident of Rugaragara village in the cell of Buriba in Rukira Sector of Ngoma District in Rwanda.
The other five members of Charlotte’s household include her husband Valence Ndikubwimana, 48, her son, Olivier Niyitanga, 15, and three girls — Beatrice Umbereyimfura, 19, Germaine Dushimirimana, 12, and Deborah Mujawimana, 8.
Charlotte lost five of her six6 biological children to HIV/AIDS. Before the project the family earned a monthly income of $12 or less from soft drinks and local brew that her husband sold at a local pub. The family always had one or two meals a day depending on the season of the year. These meals consisted only of beans and cassava flour cake (or plantains) and occasionally some green vegetables.
The family’s original plot of land was a quarter of a hectare acquired through government allocations. In this space they built a 2 bedroom house and maintained a small garden on which Charlotte grew beans, sorghum and cassava for subsistence.
Training and Investment
Charlotte’s dairy goat had off springs within 3 months of receiving it and as they started producing manure, she rented a piece of land for $14 for one year and planted maize. With the use of manure she was able to produce 500 kg of maize from which she earned $140 that year. With earnings from the crops and the Pub, the family acquired another 70 x30M plot of land. They have now procured solar power for their pub. Being the only ones with power supply in their neighborhood, they now have more clients who earn them $21 per month from drinks and $40 from clients who pay for charging their devices and watching television.
The family received training in goat rearing, nutrition, establishing kitchen gardens and composting.
With increased use of manure in their new plot, they now harvest an average of 35 bunches of bananas every month thus earning $200 per month from bananas alone. The family rears local chicken and eats eggs at least once a week. Also from their kitchen garden, they harvest cabbage and green vegetables. The family now has 3 meals a day, with goat’s milk or porridge for breakfast.
With the consumption of goat’s milk, the health and CD4 count of both husband and wife have improved greatly. When Charlotte first received her goat, her CD4 was at a very low count of 214 and her body weight was 45kg.
Five years later now, she looks healthy and vibrant. Her most recent CD4 count is 1000 and her body weight is 67Kgs.
Fighting Child Malnutrition
After experiencing the effectiveness of dairy goat milk, Charlotte passed on the first female offspring of her goat as required and then started offering 3 of the 6 litres of her goats’ milk to a small group of malnourished children and teaching their of mothers how to prepare nutritious meals. When the children increased to 56 in number, a Local Health centre facilitated in the fight against child malnutrition. For a period of six months the local program provided a package to the malnourished children comprising 12 litres of cow milk, 7 Kg of cereal flour, 6 kgs of legumes, nuts and oil.
Today Charlotte is happy that almost all the children she has assisted are healthy and well.
Still, on the 18th of every month Charlotte hosts an “open kitchen day” in her home that always attracts between 80 and 100 children. She encourages mothers to bring along any food they can afford and she and “POG Mothers” supplement it with goat’s milk and fish and prepare nutritious meals to teach visiting mothers better ways to feed children.
Passing On the Dairy Goats
The Heifer project that supported Charlotte with a dairy goat ended in 2013. In the absence of the project oversight, Charlotte has volunteered herself as a mobilizer to ensure that passing on of dairy goats continues in her locality. She follows up members that should pass on and also identifies those that need the dairy goats. She then gets her recipients’ list endorsed by the local leadership and this has earned her support from the authorities. She has also mobilized 2 other Animal Health Providers that were trained by Heifer to continue supporting her ‘donors’ and “recipients”. She and her helpers also continue to pass-on the training they acquired in goat rearing, nutrition and composting to these new recipients.
Today Charlotte proudly narrates that she has built trust and confidence among her neighbors and the local leadership. Her personal goal is that every homestead in her village gets a dairy goat and has healthy children.
In February 2015, Charlotte achieved her latest POG activity in which 9 donors passed on dairy goats to 9 new families.