The local authorities and 24 youth from Nyarugenge District joined MindLeaps students to plant kitchen gardens that will help 65 former street children improve their family nutrition.  These gardens will add vegetables to their diet and excess produce will be sold to provide a much needed source of income.

The activity was part of a monthly communal service, commonly known as “Umuganda” in Rwanda. According to Rwandapedia, the word Umuganda can be translated as ‘coming together in common purpose to achieve an outcome’.

Last year, MindLeaps team, together with the USA Embassy in Rwanda, organized Umuganda in which the USA Embassy staff joined MindLeaps students to paint our center and to collect plastic bags around the premises. MindLeaps kids had a great time learning from the USA Embassy team about how to mix colors and different ways of painting walls. Of course, a freestyle dance closed the activities.

This year, on Saturday, March 18th, children and youth from the MindLeaps program had another great time learning how to plant vegetables assisted by other youth from Nyarugenge. Afterwards, they were given seeds by the local authorities to take so that they can plant kitchen gardens with their families and teach their relatives what they learned during this activity.

Not only were MindLeaps students told about the importance of kitchen gardens, but thanks to Kigali Farms, they were also taught the role of mushrooms in their lives. Kigali Farms is an organization that works to help fight chronic malnutrition by allowing mushrooms to become a meaningful part of the Rwandan diet. Kigali Farms is now partnering with MindLeaps to provide mushrooms to the families of former street children and vulnerable youth.

Before they left, all participants discussed another important topic: the fight against drugs. Youth and children were asked to inform neighboring local security services or other local authorities whenever they see someone selling drugs or someone trying to get them to sell drugs.

At MindLeaps, dance is a major component, an entry key into the rehabilitation process, but it is also a place to learn different life skills that can help street children leap forward in their lives.

Eugene Dushime is the Country Director for MindLeaps.