Rebuilding in Rwanda: The Power of a Mother’s Love

May 05, 2016

Athanasie, a returned refugee, has worked hard to create a healthy and prosperous future for her family in Rwanda – one coffee tree at a time.

Athanasie, right, has been able to pay for her daughters' education and buy additional land to grow maize with income earned from her coffee farm.

Athanasie Musabyimana has overcome tremendous obstacles just to provide for her children. When violence broke out in Rwanda in 1994, Athanasie, 20 years old and eight months pregnant, fled to Tanzania with her husband and her son. In the refugee camp, she gave birth to a daughter, whom she named Nzamwitakuze: “I will give you a name if you survive.”

Watch Athanasie's journey from refugee camp to prosperity.

Conditions were challenging and food supplies limited, but the family survived the refugee camp, and ultimately returned to Rwanda to settle down as farmers. Tragically, Athanasie’s husband died shortly thereafter from malaria, leaving her a young widow with two children and her parents to support, struggling to make ends meet.

Flash forward to today, Athanasie is a successful, proud farmer supporting her household of six.

Thanks to supporters like yourself, TechnoServe was able to help Athanasie rebuild her life. Athanasie first heard of TechnoServe in 2007, when it  helped coffee cooperatives access financing to build wet mills. The new wet mills enabled farmers like Athanasie to get better prices for their coffee cherries.

In 2009, Athanasie joined TechnoServe’s agronomy and business training program as part of the Coffee Initiative. Using the best practices she learned, Athanasie improved both the yield and quality of her coffee harvest. “From Technoserve, I learned better composting, better pruning, and how to use fertilizer for coffee. But what I really learned was how to rejuvenate my trees. The quality was so good that we sold it to Starbucks.”

Rebuilding with coffee income: Athanasie is expanding the house where she lives with her parents and children.

As her income grew over the years, Athanasie continued to invest in her farm, buying more land and doubling her coffee holdings. By 2014, Athanasie had tripled her income, earning approximately $420 for the year.

Today, Athanasie runs a successful coffee farm and has expanded into growing maize. The boost in income has enabled her to support her household of six, affording medical insurance for her extended family and school fees for her children. Athanasie’s son, Ndimubanzi Jean Bosco, 23, farms with his mother, and her younger daughter, Uwineza Denise, 7, attends primary school.

Her daughter, Nzamwitakuze Dina, now 21, has not only survived, but thrived: she recently completed the first phase of secondary school and hopes to attend college. The profits from her farm have also allowed Athanasie to start renovating and expanding her house.

Together, Athanasie and her family look forward to a future filled with possibility.


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