Today, everything has changed
Letter to Friends around the World # 98

APROJUMAP (Association for the Promotion of Twinning and Friendship between People) aims to contribute to the economic and social development of rural Rwanda by combating poverty. They do this in partnership with the Rwandan authorities and several Belgian municipalities.

APROJUMAP supports families to take collective action in regular tasks, such as working in the fields, renovating houses, digging ditches to combat erosion, and other activities. One example of their work includes ‘small livestock’ projects, accessible to the poorest people. They receive young animals like goats and pigs, which they raise in barns. The livestock provide manure which can then be used in the fields.
The families meet in small groups in the woods once a month to talk, to share their problems and discuss solutions. The communal working, like the meetings, aims to develop solidarity to face problems together.

“I gave up school, not because I wasn’t intelligent, but so that I could pay the school fees and buy the school materials for my brother. I worked in the fields by myself. It was hard without animals. It was tiring and I didn’t manage to cultivate all my fields. Today, everything has changed.

APROJUMAP introduced us to collective action. We help one another and cultivate the fields in no time. This solidarity has enabled me to plant manioc, sorghum, sweet potato, beans [...] I got 120kg of beans at the last harvest, whereas before I never got more than 57kg. I even hope in the coming years to return to school.” Jean de Dieu N.

This association encourages communities and authorities to identify the people who are the most excluded and isolated. “We need time to reach them. In general, after participating for several months you can see the change. The people aren’t the same any more. The most excluded families become less isolated and feel progressively more human like everyone else. They have become a force to be reckoned with and show others that they exist. People need to come together to combat poverty. People must know that they need each other to find answers to their problems.”