Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Coffee to Kitchen Gardens

United Nations Association International Service. Rwanda Cohort IV. Blog II.
Coffee to Kitchen Gardens

By Jamie Tristram & Lucy Holmes

Week two of our Rutsiro adventure! We are now into the full swing of things and are getting use to the Rwandan way of life. Our mornings are kickstarted with a personal alarm clock from the cockerel’s, followed by a seven o’clock yoga class outside the office where we are rewarded with stunning views of Lake Kivu and the surrounding hills. The scenery never fails to amaze us and its clear to see why Rwanda is known as ‘The Land of a Thousand Hills’. We can’t think of a better way to start the day and are all hoping it will help to tackle the delicious yet carb heavy diet. It is then a walk home for a “nice” cold bucket shower (which is exactly as it sounds) before we head off to work.

Our alarm clock and morning view

Our work week started with a trip to the local Kopakama Coffee Dry Mill, designed to give us volunteers an insight into how Kopakama processes its beans. The first process is for the coffee beans to have their outer and inner shells removed before being separated according to grade and size. Once sorted, the beans are moved next door where a team of women, ranging from 200-700 (dependant upon demand) are waiting to sort the beans by hand – this is to ensure only the best quality is put forward. A small selection is taken to the testing room where the beans are roasted, ground, brewed and go through a tasting process similar to that of wine tasting. Upon being given the green light, the beans are shipped worldwide after which they are roasted in country. From seeing the beans on the trees through to tasting a freshly brewed cup, we all have a better understanding and insight into the coffee making process. The highlight of the trip was getting the chance to roast and grind our own coffee. However, neither of us like the taste of coffee (still working on that) and will therefore be bringing ours back to the UK for everyone else to taste our hard work!

Coffee roasting & Grinding                                                                Tasting our hard work            

Upon meeting the all-female sorting team at the Dry Mill, we spoke to one of the workers – Cyimpaye Liberetha. (Pictured below) Despite our best efforts at speaking Kinyarwanda –  Mwaramutse (good morning) and Mwiriwe (good afternoon) - did not quite suffice in holding a conversation. Luckily, our helpful team leader - Donald - was on hand to help translate. Cyimpaye told us how working for a fair-trade cooperative (Kopakama) has benefitted her in many ways. She has a strong and stable wage and is able to provide her family with health insurance, give her two children a decent education and even save some money for the future. She loves working with the beans and is excited to start working with Organic coffee, as Kopakama is currently going through the process of being certified as Organic. Working amongst the smell of fresh coffee is an added bonus and Cyimpaye loves the odd cheeky coffee.

Meeting Cyimpaye at the Coffee Dry Mill

We got our hands dirty on Tuesday and Thursday by starting our project of building kitchen gardens for the local community. Kitchen gardens are simply made from sacks, soil, manure and seeds, however, don’t let that deceive you; they require hard manual labour from the whole team. The kitchen gardens we build will help the community fight malnutrition by providing families with the means of a balanced diet. Our morale and determination was increased when the local community - who will directly benefit - came along to give a helping hand. We are now more determined than ever to build as many as we can in the coming weeks. Team Rutsiro really came together by the end of the day. It was great to see that by Thursday we had perfected our building technique having reduced the time taken to build from four hours down to just two.

First Kitchen garden down, many more to go!

Keep your eyes peeled for our blog next week to keep updated with our adventures!

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