Cyimbili was one of the largest coffee plantations in Rwanda. It contained nearly 24 thousand plants, each one producing about 4 pounds of coffee per year. The plantation provided jobs and services for the local community, and it was a hub of stability and outreach to thousands of people. But the Rwandan genocide in 1994 changed all that. In the turmoil of those events the plantation was abandoned and production diminished. It no longer served as an economic center and the hopes of the local community withered away with the plants. In 2008 we found the plantation to be a shell of what it once was. It yielded minimal coffee and had little impact on the hurting and poverty-stricken people around it.
Rwanda has made substantial progress in stabilizing its economy to pre-1994 levels. And coffee has become a key growth business for the country. Plantations that can produce a better quality bean and improve processing are on their way to competing on the world market. Entering that market could make all the difference for a small village with hopes of building their community back to a basic level of sustenance. A successful coffee plantation—even a small one—provides jobs which spill over into a stronger local economy. This leads to schools and public health facilities, church initiatives, other job markets, and ultimately a thriving community.
Our mission in Cyimbili is about transformation—restoring a debilitated plot of land into a successful coffee plantation—and everything that follows.
The restoration of the coffee plantation is ultimately a restoration of the people who surround it. Amazingly, that little brown bean can help restore the local economy, and through that, the community. But a key element to lasting success is a focus on eternity—men and women reconciled to God and each other.
The overall project, which began in 2008, will span the course of 4 years and require an investment of $1.2 million dollars in order to bring about the remarkable and sustainable transformation we hope for. But it will also take heart and grit and good measure of prayer. Learn more how you can get involved.
Learn more about each focus:
Re-planting and implementing a modern and sustainable processing system for the plantation will require a 4-year commitment and significant initial funding.
The work will include:
Pruning and planting trees
Expanding current tooling and capabilities
Constructing a washing station, drying, and packing facilities
Staffing and staff training
Since that time, we have completed projects to provide clean water, electricity, and sanitation systems. These are having a huge impact on the community. With God’s help we’ve also been able to repair some of the buildings, improve the roads, and build bridges.
We are now in the second phase of development for the community, which will include:
Renovation and expansion of the local medical clinic
Helping the women of Cyimbili set up small businesses through a micro-loan program
Providing volunteers to teach in the schools
The Medical Clinic
There is a very basic, yet critical, medical clinic on the Cyimbili plantation consisting of several offices, four examining rooms, one maternity room, and two small in-patient rooms. A handful of dedicated medical personnel work at the clinic and a doctor visits one day each month. The clinic sees up to a hundred people a day for a wide variety of ailments like minor infections, respiratory and stomach problems, AIDS, and malaria. There is currently no running water or refrigeration at the clinic.
There is an immediate need for medical supplies, refrigeration, and improved sanitation facilities. There is a long-term need for rehabilitation and expansion of the facility, modern equipment, training for existing staff, and the addition of a doctor in-residence.
Cyimbili High School is a rapidly growing semi-private boarding school for hundreds of students. The many changes taking place in the community are an attraction to families in the surrounding areas. Donated educational materials and sports equipment have sparked student involvement in class and after school. Expectations for academic excellence are high and the student schedule rigorous. Students are motivated to study hard for the opportunity to go on to university. They study willingly in the evenings in empty classrooms in order to excel on exams.
There is a significant need at Cyimbili High School for textbooks, dictionaries, resource materials, English language materials, and appropriate technology. We would also like to have volunteers come teach English, music, or even sports—enriching the academic lives of the students, and mentoring them in their spiritual development.
Rwanda suffered a historic and tremendous setback a decade ago, the result of which is a long line of broken relationships that desperately need healing. It will require a personal and spiritual awakening of the people to bring that about.
Cyimbili has a vibrant church and a small, but solid Bible school. Hope for a Thousand Hills is committed to working with these local pastors and Christian leaders toward spiritual development and reconciliation in the community.
In the past few years, we’ve sent teachers, pastors, and others who have been called to help in this process. We’ve provided pastoral leadership training, mentoring for the students, and most importantly we’ve had the opportunity to build relationships that have opened doors for sharing our lives and our faith.
We still need pastors, mentors, and volunteers who model Christ to come to Cyimbili and speak into the lives of the people.
Our desire is to help them develop a strong sense of worth as God’s creation, and to discover their purpose in His plan. Africa has typically been the recipient of missions. Our hope is to see this community become participants, being transformed from a mission field to a mission force.