Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Client Visits in Gicumbi and Gatsibo...(January 2014)

An egg that is ready for pick-up
On Monday, January 6th, 2014, I visited one chicken farmer client in Gicumbi District and group clients in a Muslim-dominant village in Gatsibo District. Dr. Yong Woo Lee, a new volunteer to UOB, Daniel, Director of Transformation Impact, and Pacifique, Loan Underwriting Team Leader joined me in the visits.

The first stop was Clementine's chicken farm located in Gicumbi, approximately 45 minutes drive from Kigali.

Clementine is in her 30's with two children. Her husband was a military personnel and has passed away during a war. We do not know the details of his death since she became emotional. But Clementine is a prominent business entrepreneur whom even the President of Rwanda recognizes.

UOB has granted a Rwf15 Million or $21,000 term loan to her chicken farm to help finance the purchase of 7,000 chicks, feeds to feed them and construction costs to bring mountain water to the chicken farm and her neighbors in the community.

Currently, Clementine raises more than 10,000 chickens out of which approximately 3,500 chickens lay eggs. She sells 21,000 eggs a week. But the number of eggs to be sold will sharply increase after two more months when the chicks now being raised will grow mature enough to start laying eggs.

Clementine buys newly hatched chicks at Rwf1,500 or $2.30. She feeds them to grow for four and half months. Mature chickens lay eggs for one and half years, approximately 320 eggs. Then, these chickens are sold at Rwf2,800 or $4.20 per head. During the egg-laying period, each egg is sold at Rwf70 or a little more than $0.10.

She is known to be the "Woman of Chickens" in the area. She also has a "Japanese plum" farm in the vicinity.

She is an active member of ADEPR, one of the largest Christian denominations in Rwanda. She has a dream to be the largest and the most effective chicken farmer in Rwanda.
Clementine proud to be a successful chicken farmer
Part of chickens that are laying eggs

Chickens after Clementine rearranged the feeds...

Eggs getting ready for shipping

Pacifique, Dr. Lee, Clementine and Daniel

We headed further north close to Gicumbi town and continued to drive in the eastern direction. The next step was a village in Gatsibo where the predominant population is Muslims. There Jean Baptist has been serving three groups of clients for the past five years. I heard about his service in this village almost five years ago and I have meant to visit with them. But, we had not been informed of this challenging mountainous terrain where we had to drive for two and half hours. The road was impossible to drive without a 4x4 vehicle. With God's grace, we made it. We met Jean Baptist at a location close to the village and followed him who was riding a 125cc motor cycle that he owns.

Jean Baptist with his motor bike
Nyabiheke Refugee Camp
On the way, we spotted a refugee camp deep into the inland of Rwanda. This refugee camp was called Nyabiheke and it was quite sizable. DR Congo refugees have been brought this much deep into the inland of Rwanda in order to avoid possible disruption into the Rwandan society when the border conflicts worsen.

When we arrived at the village, a group of 35 predominantly women were waiting for us on a grass field, nearby a small church under construction. As usual, there was a small table and five chairs where we were expected to sit. After I explained to them about the products we offer and training we provide, I asked them how else we can serve them better. They appreciated the school fee loans that we currently offer and were excited about mHose mobile banking platform. I also explained about solar lamp loans and we received their clapping of welcoming the product. Also, they showed a strong interest in agricultural loans, particularly the feature of not having to make payment until the harvest is completed. A member prayed for the meeting and there were several Muslim ladies who were covering their hair. A mosque was noticed nearby but they chose to meet in front of a small new church being built.

Jean Baptist shared his testimony in 2009 when I first visited Gicumbi EBU to which he belongs. How he first entered into the village without knowing anyone, how he listened to a lady who was weeping because she was rebuked by Muslim leaders for her attending her Christian friend's wedding, how she appreciated Jean Baptist's compassion, how she invited him to the village and her home to collect her friends and how the group started growing. Today, several clients stood up and openly expressed their appreciation for Jean Baptist's humble, compassionate and considerate services. They also proudly shared their transformation stories. How they were able to bring the power to their houses. How they were able to send their children to secondary schools. How they were able to feed their children with milk. How they have been able to build their small homes. Of course, they have achieved all these economic transformation after they have paid back all principals and interests. Their stories always touch my heart. I had a sigh of relief and murmured. "Our endeavors have not gone wasted and God's grace has been apparent to them."
Jean Baptist with his clients

Clients listening

A client asking questions

A small new church under construction

Children are always curious...

We appreciated their being UOB clients and shook hands with all of them. Many children gathered around and listened to their stories as well. I am sure they have felt the same way as their parents. We praised the Lord who has shed the light of life to this village and many have come to know God through the service of love that has been lived out, not just talked about.

I ended up driving almost seven hours today. Tired as I may have been, but the joy my heart has been filled with was far greater than the fatigue. Our God is an awesome God! I praise Him with all my heart! - Jeffrey

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