“Helping people to help themselves works!”

Desk officer Laura Plosinjak on a project visit to Rwanda. On her first trip to Rwanda, desk officer Laura Plosinjak was able to get to know the Kolping families, project work and the staff in the national association. Here is a report on her journey:


“After a warm welcome and a tour of the national office in Kigali, we set off on our round trip to visit various Kolping families. I found the community projects of a specific Kolping family particularly interesting. For example, the cultivation of sugar cane by the 38 members of the Hanika Kolping Family on a field which they share. The Kolping Family saved up for the field for a long time and bought it together. In addition, the members have leased another six fields. That’s pretty clever, because sugar cane can be grown all year round and harvested three times. And all the fields yield a lot! The profits are deposited into the Kolping Family’s savings account, enabling them to grant more and more members a small loan. In this way, the members can gradually improve their livelihoods, earn a higher income and use the money for their children’s health and education.


Working hard to attend school – thanks to Kolping’s support

In Muramba, I visited the biggest Kolping Family with 500 members. It is divided into several sub-groups. At the large members’ meeting, young women talked about the support they received from Kolping to go to school: The families of Jeannette Uwamyirigira and Alice Uwihirwe could not afford the school fees for their daughters. Kolping helped: Through Kolping, Jeanette and Alice have learned how to grow beans and they also received their first seeds from the Kolping Family. The young women were able to invest the earnings from the harvest to buy pigs. With self-confidence and broad grins, the two women reported that they are now able to pay their school fees with the income from pig farming and can attend school again. And Jeannette proudly added that she was even able to buy a smartphone.


Helping people to help themselves works

School fees are a big issue for almost every Kolping Family I have visited. Nevertheless, Kolping members are proud and self-assured in the community. They present themselves confidently in their orange Kolping shirts and report that they have been able to build a better life thanks to the training and input provided by Kolping. Their children go to school and are no longer starving. The families are able to eat two to three times a day, whereas in the past they barely had enough for one meal.

The help is passed on

The community makes people strong and supportive. It is also particularly gratifying to experience solidarity with others, as many people also take care of their neighbors. Govetti Umimama was poor and undernourished and could barely feed her five children. Meanwhile, the former beggar has turned into a proud woman who supports others. She received small livestock and later a cow from Kolping. Meanwhile, Govetti owns several cows and has been able to build a house. Her children all go to school or even to university.


Merry-go-round principle: The first calf is given away as a gift

Govetti gave one cow to her neighbor. He in turn gave her back the first calf, which she in turn gave to another neighbor – all in all, she has already helped 27 families. Govetti implements the Kolping concept perfectly: Anyone who receives a small animal undertakes to pass on the firstborn to the next member. This multiplies the donated help considerably.

Maria Magdaleine Kakuze has also received a cow from Kolping. She raises her grandchildren. Gradually, she was able to buy pigs, chickens and rabbits. The small farmer harvests corn and soybeans. Whatever she doesn’t need for her grandchildren, she can sell for a profit. Maria also supplies malnourished neighboring children with nutritious milk and food so that they can grow up healthier.


More pictures from the projects of Kolping Rwanda: