We are a married couple, who had a shared vision of wanting to make a contribution to Rwandan society. While we come from very different backgrounds, we combined our energy and passion to create the Mustard Seed Institute. Our name is based on the Bible quote, ‘If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to that mountain move, and it will move, nothing will be impossible for you’.
The Mustard Seed Institute was created in 2015 and is registered in both Australia and Rwanda. Our dream is to contribute toward the building of a truly reconciled and prosperous Rwanda, where ethnic divisionism, Genocide ideology and extreme poverty are only terrible memories that have no place in the ‘new’ Rwandan nation.
We are based in the Eastern Province of Rwanda and our projects are centered in the village of Rwankuba, where the Mustard Seed Farm is located and where the Mustard Seed House will be constructed. We believe in a grass roots approach toward social transformation and a practical model of reconciliation, that brings the community together to work toward a common goal of economic development. Our approach recognizes that we cannot talk about true reconciliation if people are hungry or lack basic needs; therefore our aim is to improve people’s livelihoods through agricultural innovations, training programs and job opportunities.
While our approach is predominately local in focus, we seek to contribute to national development through sharing our research findings on agricultural and social issues and by hosting seminars and dialogues at the Mustard Seed House for visiting groups from neighboring countries, where conflict is being experienced, to come and learn from our community experiences and the Rwandan example of national reconciliation and reconstruction.
We chose to be based in Rwankuba in the Eastern Province, because this is where Nepo grew up and the Mustard Seed Farm (link) is on his family land. During the Genocide Against the Tutsis in 1994, Nepo’s entire family, his parents and younger brothers and sisters, were all killed by the Interahamwe militia. They had fled their land to take shelter in the local Catholic Church, along with thousands of other terrified Tutsis, and this is where they were massacred, along with thousands of others. Nepo was able to escape, becoming a Genocide Survivor and Orphan at the age of ten.
After we married (in 2015), we returned to Nepo’s family land and decided that we wanted to work in the community to ensure a better future for the children of Rwankuba, so they never have to experience the horrors of Genocide and insecurity, as Nepo and other children have experienced in the past. The act of returning held deep meaning for Nepo, it meant he forgave the killers of his family, many of whom still live in the area and are close neighbors. Today, both Genocide survivors and former Genocide perpetrators and their relatives work on the Mustard Seed Farm and are among the beneficiaries of our different projects and participate in our programs.
We have combined our different skills and work experiences to develop the Mustard Seed Institute into an impactful Social Enterprise that has the capacity to positively transform people’s lives.
We love to hear from people interested in our work! Please contact us, and we can discuss how you can become part of the Mustard Seed Institute’s journey of community transformation!