Post: Jeanette Atulinde
When we last visited the Island of Idjwi in Lake Kivu we spent time with Jeanette Mayuano Atulinde, a coffee grower and a mother of six whose graciousness and dignity is hopefully apparent in this video we made of her home and her situation.
Jeanette's husband died some years ago whilst he was canoeing sacks of coffee beans across Lake Kivu to Rwanda. Until recently, the coffee growers on Idjwi have had no outlet other than Rwanda where the beans are absorbed into the economy and processed as Rwanda coffee. But storms on the lake frequently capsize the canoes laden with heavy sacks. Large boats are also lost – on Idjwi Mama Katambara gave us details of ships that have sunk on the way to Rwanda with 150 or more people on board all of whom were drowned.
Now there is hope. Coffee buyers in Europe and the USA are beginning to look at the Kivu region and there are a few examples of containers being bought and shipped direct to market without going through Rwanda. We have been directly involved through our support for the CPNCK co-operative on Idjwi who have successfully sold a container to the States and are now in the process of selling a second container.
That’s not what this video is about. Instead it’s about Jeanette, who she is and what she does to survive. And by extension it’s about the reality of life for more than one thousand widow coffee growers on Idjwi. It’s about their fortitude and resilience and it explains why we care and why it is important to work for a better solution.