Journeys of Joy: Marare, Nashisa, and Busekera

Written by
FH staff writer
Published on
July 25, 2023 at 5:00:00 PM PDT July 25, 2023 at 5:00:00 PM PDTth, July 25, 2023 at 5:00:00 PM PDT

Celebrating Resilience: A Decade of Transformation

After a fruitful decade of partnership with Food for the Hungry (FH), three communities in East Africa were ready to party! Marare and Nashisa in Uganda and Busekera in Rwanda organized epic celebrations to remember how far they've come and tell the story of their journey through speeches, songs, dances, poems, and skits. They invited regional leaders, representatives from the Ministries of Health and Education, FH partners, and Canadian partners and child sponsors (like you!) to witness their triumph and share in their joy.

These communities have worked with Food for the Hungry to design and create sustainable solutions to their particular challenges. By working together—strengthening leadership and establishing community groups to build financial stability, improving health, raising the level of education—they have woven a strong fabric of resilience that supports their communities from the inside out.

Today, Marare and Nashisa thrive because of your support!

Marare & Nashisa, Uganda

During the 10-year partnership with Marare and Nashisa in Mbale, Uganda

━12 community visits by Canadian partners

━86 Canadian supporters visited families in the communities

━1,172 children sponsored by Canadians

━2 churches, Northgate Community Baptist Church and Cap Church, walked alongside these communities

Meeting Mercy, At Last: Shawn Plummer, Former President & CEO

I'm so grateful that after 12 years of writing letters and sending pictures, my whole family was able to meet Mercy! Our family has had the privilege to journey with this remarkable young woman and share in her progress over the years. Mercy is excelling in high school and playing competitive soccer! So fun to spend some time in her home with her mom and siblings and experience how families in Marare are being transformed through community partnership.

This visit happened in August 2022 when I and 18 Canadian FH staff and partners—plus some children and spouses!—travelled to Uganda to experience Marare and Nashisa's stories of transformation over the 10 years. I'm also grateful for the added specialness of showing my kids "what Dad's been doing" for the past 22 years.

While there, we witnessed the devastating impact COVID-19 and pandemic restrictions had on families and school-age children. We also saw how, in spite of this unprecedented challenge, the communities pulled together, pressed ahead, and were ready to celebrate their incredible successes. Over 1,000 families, friends, local leaders, and district dignitaries attended the event! There were speeches, presentations, and of course, dancing. I was proud of my kids and their willingness to get out there and shake their hips like they never have before!

"Hello Shawn and Lindsay, Greetings to you form my family in Jesus' name! This is a sad moment to say goodbye to you. [But], I know God will provide for me to achieve my vision. Thank you for [supporting] my school fees, providing me with scholastic materials, and to see Marare school shining with the school garden, clean water for drinking. I pray to Almighty God to bless your family." ━Mercy, sponsor child partnered with the Plummer family

Busekera, Rwanda

Today, Busekera thrives because of your support! During the 10-year partnership with Busekera

━566 children sponsored by Canadians

━99.5% households now own a farm animal

━50 active Savings and Loans Groups with 1,064 members each saving around $915 CAD per year!

We Did This Together: Shelaine Strom, National Education Lead

I had the privilege of bringing a group of Canadians with me to participate in the Busekera community graduation. We arrived with curiosity and anticipation for what the day would bring.

On the day of the great celebration, we were warmly welcomed as one of many supporting partners in this community's transformation. On my left sat Rwandan government officials and to my right, Alice Kamau, the FH Rwanda Country Director. FH staff surrounded us and the gallery teamed with young and old. The feeling of collaboration was strong—"We did this together!"

One pastor praised the efforts and leadership of Concessa, an agriculture specialist who trained fellow villagers on sustainable growing practices like crop rotation, organic farming, and planting methods. Harvests sky rocketed, profits increased.

Concessa walks with godly swagger. She takes healthy pride in the outcome of her efforts and is now expanding her mentoring to neighbouring communities.

A personal highlight came from a young girl whose spoken verse recounted where Busekera began their walk with FH and the hard work and perseverance it took from everyone to arrive at graduation. Her dramatic flair and presentation skills were delightful but how she represented the next generation's ownership and understanding of the work done—and to be carried on—overwhelmed and thrilled.

Meeting such incredible children in Busekera provided a helpful backdrop for the team members who visited their new sponsor children in Bwira, the new community FH is now able to walk with.

Michelle, whose family has been sponsoring children since 2002, commented, "The contrast [between Bwira and] Busekera was shocking. The kids running around in Bwira [were] in clothes that were ripped and hanging off their bodies. I could see the hopelessness in them compared to Busekera. They knew in their heads that there was hope but they were still in such a hard place."

Seeing that contrast is actually what brought visitors like Michelle hope! They left knowing that a good journey had begun in Bwira that would bring flourishing, and they were 100 per cent committed to walking it with the community!

Wendy, an Ending Poverty Together workshop facilitator on the trip, remarked, "FH really does what we say we do. When I teach Canadians about this approach and then I go to the communities, I see how much this works. I am so convinced that this is the way poverty alleviation needs to be."

"Since FH started partnering with us in Marare things have greatly improved and continue to improve. We have a dairy cow from FH that has encouraged us to make milk, save with our weekly saving group, and improve our earnings... God has used his people from Canada to touch many lives in our community; I can't imagine what this community would be looking like without them." ━ Esther, Marare, Uganda

What's Next? Communities nearing their goals!

Char Borobila, Bangladesh

When Char Borobila began their partnership with FH Bangladesh in 2012, they set a 10-year goal of "Improved quality of life and wellbeing of the most vulnerable, specifically women." In Bangladesh, where men are seen as the head of the household and women are discouraged from earning an income, this was an ambitious goal!

But Char Borobila has seen incredible growth as community members learned about the benefits of including women in leadership and entrepreneurship. Now, women are rising up as community leaders and even training other women in Savings and Loans Groups!

Acul, Guatemal

Acul began their journey with FH in 2016, with nutrition and education posing key challenges. Community members have attended cooking classes, learned how to grow their own veggies, and raised animals like rabbits to boost family nutrition.

Early childhood education kits have raised young children's confidence in the classroom, while school supplies distributions and family visits by FH staff have helped to reduce dropout rate. All of these efforts are helping children stay in school and get the education they deserve!

"I thank FH for supporting my community, for the ideas they have shared with the mothers, families, children and young students, and for the training sessions developed with the leaders, they have been a great blessing for the families, now they are putting into practice what they have learned." ━ Jose, Acul, Guatemala

Do you want to go on a journey of joy with a community? Explore Journey Partners!

Journey Partners