Feeding Families in Rwanda

Stirring beans and adding spices, Veneranda Nirere stands over a massive pot in the kitchen at ERM-Rwanda. Soon, nearly a hundred plates will be pilled high with rice, beans, and fruit to feed the sponsored children who come each Saturday to the program center here on the outskirts of Kigali. After finishing their Bible study lesson, kids of all ages file into the large kitchen to pick up a plate. Veneranda smiles as she sees two of her own children, Yabesi and Claude, in the mix with all the others enjoying a nutritious meal that she had a hand in preparing. She knows from experience how critical a meal like this can be for children and families who don’t have enough food at home. 

Many years ago, shortly after giving birth to Yabesi, she made the choice to take in Claude whom she had found abandoned at birth. She had more than enough love, but extremely limited resources. Those early years were very difficult. Nursing was a constant struggle because her own nutrition was too low to produce enough milk for both babies. She supplemented as best she could with the water left over from cooking beans.

As the children grew, Veneranda was able to earn a small income from selling vegetables and doing laundry for her neighbors. It was just enough to provide one or two meals a day for her family and pay the rent for their small home. But the cost of school fees for Claude and Yabesi was out of reach.

She praised God the day both kids were accepted into the new Lahash Sponsorship Program through the local ministry at ERM-Rwanda. As part of the program, the kids were enrolled in school and could also attend the weekly gatherings where they played, sang, heard Bible stories, and received a meal. When she saw the impact it was having on the kids’ holistic health, she knew she wanted to give back. Right away she started volunteering to coordinate, cook, and serve the weekly meals.

Back at home, food insecurity was still a daily struggle. In recent years coronavirus lockdowns, medical issues, and government restrictions severely limited her ability to work. Like other vulnerable families, she had no savings to draw from. Rent bills stacked up as food supplies dwindled. Her family, now with three kids, tried to get by on one meal a day, but sometimes went to sleep without eating anything.

Claude and Yabesi show off their strength as they lift bags of food brought by Lahash’s partners in Rwanda.

Thanks to funds from Rice & Beans Month, her family is now receiving additional food support at home. She recalls one of the days when the team from ERM-Rwanda came to deliver food. “When I saw the team carrying sacks of rice and flour, a package of sugar and a can of cooking oil, for a moment I thought I was a dreaming. I lost my words and the next thing I felt were tears of joy running down my cheeks,” said Veneranda. “I’ve never felt so much cared for!” Each week Veneranda faithfully fills the plates of hungry kids in Rwanda, and we are so grateful for the global Lahash community who are filling their own plates with rice and beans in order to stand with her and ensure each child has the nutrition they need to thrive! 

You can help feed families like Veneranda’s in Rwanda and across East Africa by sharing your grocery savings during Rice & Beans Month! Give towards nutrition HERE!