Host Organization: Rwanda Village Concept Project (RVCP) and the Widow’s Association
The Rwanda Village Concept Project (RVCP) is an NGO that aims to better the living conditions of impoverished communities through sustainable development. It was founded by the community in the Huye district of southern Rwanda, medical students of the National University of Rwanda, and the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA). Learn more about RVCP at: www.rwanda-vcp.org, and show your support by ‘liking’ them on Facebook (click here)! The Widows’ Association is a group of women from the Huye region that RVCP supports, consisting of widows from the Rwandan genocide and the HIV/AIDS epidemic, many of whom were living on less than $1(USD) a day.
EPN’s joint venture with the RVCP and the Rwandan Widows’ Association consisted of the construction of thirty beehives and the hands-on training of fifty Widows’ Association members. The project took place in the Huye district of southern Rwanda. The goal was to introduce a model microeconomic enterprise to be replicated throughout the region. All proceeds from the sale of processed honey went directly towards supporting the women. In addition, this venture aimed to promote self-reliance and responsibility in the community through leadership training, supported project management, and exercises in proposal writing.
98% of the population in the project’s target area had been resettled there since the 1994 genocide, and consisted mainly of widows and orphans. This demographic imbalance has had a huge economic impact on the country and has significantly lowered the living standards and health conditions of the population. The beekeeping project contributed to poverty alleviation in the Huye community, helped empower the beneficiaries, and provided pollination for the many surrounding cash crops, such as coffee, bananas, and sunflowers. As a sustainable development initiative, this project aimed to become self-sustaining after the first two years of honey production.
EPN-RVCP joint venture participants
Two EPN interns had the opportunity to volunteer at the site; Alyx MacAdams was there from May to August of 2008, and Sarah Woolf was on site from May to August of 2009. They both played vital roles in the implementation of this project, including collecting receipts and important documents, keeping a journal and taking photos, and working directly with the widows. We are extremely proud and thankful to have had both of their expertise on the project site.
To read about their internship experience, check out their blog! See: www.sustainabilibee.blogspot.com
Within two years, three beehives had been established, and a sustainable organizational structure was put into place. The Widow’s Association received full training and are currently making enough profit to foster the project’s growth. Although the returns they are seeing now are more modest than originally predicted, EPN has faith that the project will continue to grow and will be met with success for the Widow’s Association, their families, and their communities.