Nancy Strachan closing Rwandan HUGS

Published 9:40 am Friday, August 10, 2018

When Nancy Strachan recently visited Courtland Baptist Church, she came with mixed feelings.

One part of her was ready to share continued good news about a project close to her heart, which is helping the people of Rwanda in Africa.

In 2006, Strachan had been quite moved by a lecture given by a writer who had survived the genocide country in the country during the mid-1990s. After that began annual independent trips starting in 2007, and three years later, she founded Rwandan HUGS.

Nancy Strachan, standing at far right, directs members of Courtland Baptist to outline the area needed for a Permgarden.

Through donations and the selling of arts and crafts such as bowls, bracelets and other jewelry made by them, she devoted the funds to helping those citizens better their education and small business development, offer emergency aid and improve their agriculture.

The Permagardens Project, which Strachan said is “the brainchild of agricultural genius Peter Jensen,” is beginning to take root.

This involves methods for individuals and families to become more self-sufficient where food is concerned. People are being shown who to create manageable gardens of their own. During her presentation in the church fellowship hall, she had local members stand to outline the area of a typical space for growing food.

All that good news was contrasted with Strachan’s announcement that largely for personal reasons she will close the program by year’s end.

Some of the crafts made by villagers in Rwanda that Nancy Strachan brought to sell for them.

But stated in a newsletter, Rwandan HUGS ends on a high note. There has been over $1 million given in money and in-kind donations over the past 11 years.

“…we’re leaving our partners healthier and more self-sufficient. They are now well connected with others who have the expertise, heart, and resources to expand the work HUGS began,” wrote Strachan. “I’m deeply honored that our work continues through Danielle Sarchet’s Beautiful Mess Ministries (she went with me to Rwanda in 2015), University of Nevada Reno Public Health Training Center, Terra Firma and Peter Jensen, visionary teacher of Permagardens, and Hand-in-Hand for Development (working with permagardens, water filters and catchment tanks, Albino children, HIV/AIDS patients, etc.). We welcome Myrna Krueger, retired agronomist, who will teach Permagardens in Rwanda, too.”

Before speaking about any of this, the church gave Strachan a check described by presenting member Audrey Gagner called “a generous amount.” That did not include whatever had been collected in a basket that evening.

The congregation had been challenged and came through. As an incentive to give, interim pastor Drew Page volunteered to help match the amount collected within and without church walls.

Strachan was visibly moved, and repeatedly thanked all for their giving the funds for Rwandans HUGS.