Good Gifts – Traditional Beer

Banana Beer Brewing
Banana Beer Brewing

The support from Good Gifts through the Charities Advisory Trust continues to be transformative for thousands of genocide survivors and their dependents across Rwanda. The impact of the funding from Good Gifts is enabling SURF and its local partner organisations to respond to the needs of the genocide survivors, and in most cases enabling them and members of their household to generate an income that delivers a sustainable impact far beyond the period of the grants. This is leading our partner organisations and the survivors supported through the programme to become more independent and self-sufficient.

This is one of a series of posts we will be publishing of the impact of the gifts, with a link to the specific gift which enabled us to make this support possible.

Traditional Beer

In most of African cultural settings, there is a tradition of drinking together, and in Rwanda, like many other countries, there is a traditional brew – which in Rwanda is Urwagwa. Urwagwa is a banana beer, which plays a significant part in the social, economic and cultural life of the Rwandan people. The banana beer in Rwanda is made from fermented mashed bananas and it has a strong flavour.

Urwagwa is the most renowned drink in Rwanda, and it is a main source of income for many local brewers. The banana beer is usually served at gatherings, for instance social meetings, as well as during traditional weddings or baptisms.

During the production, women gather together and it is usually a perfect time for them to bond and create friendships. Banana and sorghum are the major ingredients of the Urwagwa beer, and the production stage begins with crushing of the already ripe bananas into wooden barrels. Traditional grasses are used for the crushing. Bananas are crushed by hand and about 2-3 people can be involved in the crushing process. Water is then added but in intervals to make sure the banana id properly diluted, and also to extract the juice.

Once the required juice is obtained from the bananas, the next stage is to make sorghum yeast to help ferment the juice. The banana leaves are used to cover the mixture and then left to ferment for 4 to 5 days in a warm place.

Through the support of Good Gifts, M.A is one of a number of beneficiaries who has received support to start a small business of producing and selling banana beer in her community to earn income to help her, and her family.

She comments: “My business here is to produce and sell banana beer. I can get between 5,000 – 10,000 Rwf (£4.50 – £9) a day depending on the quality of the beer and the season. As a result, I have already bought two new goats from the income I have generated from this business, and I have the plan to buy a cow in the future. I am dearly thankful for the support and opportunity you have provided.”

You can buy a gift of Cheers here.

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