“When I came from prison, I have decided to live alone but now sociotherapy has made friends for me.” Former participant from Mubuga
In this phase of sociotherapy in which an accent has been put on the sustainability of what has been already achieved by the program, visiting the cooperatives and associations born after 15 weeks of sociotherapy is among other things the duty of our Field Teams. Since the beginning of this year, an evaluation is being made around the country in every district we work to determine the true impact of sociotherapy in people’s life but also in the communities they live in.
This week Karongi in the Western province will be our focus; in eight sectors of this district (Bwishyura, Mubuga, Gishyita, Gitesi, Rwankuba, Murundi, Murambi and Gashari) our staff met former participants and sociotherapists to talk about what has been achieved and a better way to sustain it. Most of those the associations and cooperatives born after sociotherapy are involved in saving and farming activities but some are also beekeepers. They also testified that their unity and social cohesion are a result of their togetherness which they thank sociotherapy for.
Sociotherapy has improved the way they view and address problems in their community, and they are committing their efforts on initiating small agriculture projects that will improve wellbeing of their families and neighbors. Considering how the infertile soil of Karongi district, most of graduates groups are contributing money on a regular basis to buy a pig or a goat for a member of the group each month. These farm animals will provide them with manure that will help them in the fertilization of household land; once it starts reproducing they can sell the offspring for economic development.
Other groups have engaged in responding to the issue of poor nutrition at local level. They have built an improved kitchen garden near the home of each group member, and neighbors are also benefiting for vegetables produced from those initiatives, either through buying from group members or being given for free as a sign of friendship.There are also groups that have initiated horticulture where they are mainly planting passion fruits or planting more than a hectare of cassava.
Looking at geographical structures of the district, there is a number of plots that is not suitable for cultivation, and it is most of time public properties. In collaboration with local leaders, sociotherapy participants have started beekeeping projects in these lands and where it is no public property, they are hiring a portion of land from individuals. Some of them have started to collect money from produced honey and it is something that has changed their wellbeing.
When discussing with them, their needs are mostly related to technical support from agronomists and veterinarians who will help them to deal with insects and increase productivity by using improved seeds. In the meeting they discussed different ways former sociotherapy groups can benefit support from these technicians at local level if they register their groups at sector level.