Fours years have flown by, it seems like only yesterday!
Hope for a Thousand Hills
“We were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our very lives as well—because you had become so dear to us.”
(1 Thessalonians 2:8).
Four years have flown by! In 2008 Hope for a Thousand Hills was born, and we entered into a four-year partnership with the Cyimbili Coffee Plantation in western Rwanda. The goal of the partnership was to join with the Rwandans to help restore the productivity of the plantation and bring hope to the people of the Cyimbili community. In so many ways, we have seen this dream become a reality. Now that this first phase of the partnership is complete, we are excited to embark on a different kind of partnership in the days ahead. But before we talk about the future, we want to share some highlights of the past four years…
The Coffee.What we suspected years ago has been repeatedly confirmed: the coffee-growing conditions in Cyimbili are exceptionally good—producing the type of bean that is in high demand in gourmet coffee markets around the world. When we started out, the plantation was in disrepair. The genocide of 1994, followed by years of neglect, had reduced the production and quality to very low levels. Owned by the Rwandan Baptist Association (AEBR), the plantation was desperately in need of help.
With the help of local experts, generous donors, and the hard-working Cyimbili staff, the plantation started to show signs of recovery. Vegetable crops, which had been planted among the coffee trees, were pulled out—giving the coffee trees the full benefit of the soil’s nutrients. The plantation was terraced, fertilized and cared for. An irrigation system was developed. A state-of-the-art coffee washing station was installed. We are currently helping to build a large coffee storage facility to accommodate the growing harvest. And to increase production, Hope for a Thousand Hills planted about 20,000 new coffee trees.
The results have been remarkable. At this time, Cyimbili is the largest privately-owned coffee plantation in all of Rwanda! Each year, production has increased over the previous year. But the most dramatic increase is about to be seen in the summer of 2013. This summer, the 20,000 new trees will finally reach maturity and begin yielding coffee. We expect a record-breaking harvest! The chart below shows the growth of coffee yields over the past four years, and projected production for the next several years:
2010 actual – 4,370kg
2011 actual – 6,907kg
2012 actual – 7,735kg
2013 projected- 28,050kg
2014 projected- 36,000kg
2015 projected- 45,500kg
Where will all this great coffee wind up? Cyimbili is currently exploring ways to export their beans to high-paying international markets, including some strong possibilities in the United States. And all of this will continue to provide jobs for hundreds of people in and around Cyimbili.
The Infrastructure.The community of Cyimbili is more than just a coffee plantation. It includes a boarding high school of about 500 students, an elementary school of about 800 students, a medical clinic, and a seminary that trains future pastors. Sustaining this requires an infrastructure, and Hope for a Thousand Hills has had the privilege of helping to improve that infrastructure. Here is an overview of the projects:
- Installed two rest room facilities with hand washing stations.
- Installed aseptic system, which has vastly improved sanitation conditions.
- Installed a water filtration system to provide drinking water for students and their families. (We are currently investigating feasibility of drilling a well).
- Oversight of construction of two bridges and roadways connecting two parts of the plantation, making it possible for ambulances to get to the medical clinic.
- An addition was built on the Cyimbili church, which has more than doubled in attendance over the past four years.
These changes, along with the fact that the Rwandan government has recently connected Cyimbili to the national electric grid, have improved the living conditions in Cyimbili dramatically.
The People.Ultimately, none of this is about coffee; it’s about people. And for the past four years, we’ve had the