GHI Thanksgiving 2014:
Gratitude, Goodness, Generosity
. . but no goats. . .
Last Friday the Gardens for Health team hosted the 5th annual Thanksgiving lunch extravaganza. Despite the threat of an afternoon deluge, the skies never opened and approximately 500 people were able to enjoy an amazing feast, sketches from field educators and dance performances from the mamas who are currently enrolled in GHI’s program.
One task of mine for this stint at GHI was planning and coordinating this year’s Thanksgiving. From a logistics perspective, the combination of implementing ‘lessons learned’ from previous years and incredible team-work resulted in an almost stress-free production. Due to the huge expansion this past year from 8 to 18 health center partnerships, we realized early on in the planning stages that including all mamas in the program was not feasible. A lottery system was devised for each health center that made it fair and equitable. The mamas chosen were all given a wooden clothespin with their name and health center written on it, as their ‘entry ticket’. This would ensure they were given priority in the meal queue, as well as a friendly way to know their names. This system also kept the numbers of guests down from last year’s approximation of two thousand!
Besides featuring dendo (turkey) on the menu, one major change from years past was the decision to switch from inhene (goat) to inka (cow) as the primary meat dish. Despite some logistical challenges with the cow’s final hour, afterwards at the staff debrief meeting there was a landslide vote in favor of inka over inhene for future events.
When the rented matatus (small buses) arrived in convoy with the Musanze district mamas (for many their first time to
excitement was palpable. Carrying colorful ceremonial baskets on their heads
with offerings from their harvest as they were greeted is a wonderful image to
remember. After the incredible lunch, prepared by the indefatigable GHI staff
and community mamas over hot fires, an hour of fervent dancing and the gifting
of harvested offerings began. It’s an extraordinary and moving spectacle to
witness these women who, in some realms have so little, yet have the capacity
to give immense doses of gratitude and goodness. Kigali
After a steadfast team tackled dishes, a crew stacked chairs and others helped with general cleanup, another dance party ensued, wrapping up a very full, wonderful and emotional day.
Clothes pins entry tickets
Ready to tackle a massive
Clean dishes prepared
.Focused potato scrubbers
Part of the potato crew
Ivy League butcher
Steadfast kitchen mamas
The lunch queue
GHI Team (partial)
The first dancers offering their
harvest baskets to Julie
Jessie & Julie
GHI's amazing leaders