A Rwandan Thanksgiving with Gardens for Health

By Jessie Cronan
Executive Director, Gardens for Health

More than 500 people gathered at the Gardens for Health farm in Rwanda on Friday, Nov. 7, 2014, for a very unique Thanksgiving celebration. Families enrolled in our program joined local officials, neighbors, and visitors, for a day of dancing, singing, and – of course – eating.

At Gardens for Health, we believe that growing and eating healthy food can, and should, be a part of the healthcare system. That is why we partner directly with government health centers to provide seeds, livestock, education, and support, to vulnerable families whose children suffer from malnutrition. We measure our success in terms of changing household consumption patterns, and lasting improvements in child health. But we are acutely aware that some of the most important changes that stem from our program are the hardest to quantify.

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At its core, our Thanksgiving is a celebration of the power that food has to create community. Mothers and families from all 18 of our partner health centers came together, sharing food from their own gardens and their own stories of change and growth.

Guandance, a graduate of our program wrote and performed the poem below about her journey. While Guandance expresses her gratitude to Gardens for Health, we remain profoundly grateful to her – and to the thousands of mothers like her – who we are proud to partner with.


We thank you GHI
We thank you in a special way
We thank you for that love
It is a heritage from God
We eulogize you who is generous
We eulogize you our pride
What can we say? It is beyond our mind!

Malnutrition confronted us
Our hero GHI intervened
It gave hard working educators
We mothers learnt, worked and succeeded
And we fought malnutrition
What can we say? It is beyond our mind!

We now own unusual hygiene
We know a hoe and its importance
A clean plate painted with four colors
When children see it! They scream GHI!
We know how to clean water
Should I tell livestock we owe you?
What can we say? It is beyond our mind!

Children thank you, so we do mothers
We Rwandese praise you
You are the best, important in education
May poets sing your virtues
You are worth it GHI, our road partner
What can we say? It is beyond our mind!

 — Guandance Mpinganzima