There is a special humanitarian connection between Sonoma and Rwanda, an African country still recovering from the effects of a brutal genocide that killed 800,000 men, women, and children 25 years ago. By Sonoma Valley Sun

A Sonoma contingent visiting Rwanda presents a check to support the Gardens for Health program.

Local resident Lynne Joiner, an Emmy award-winning broadcast journalist, documentary filmmaker and author was one of a dozen Sonoma residents who traveled to Rwanda.

Joiner will moderate a presentation, and share stunning visuals from the trip, on Wednesday, February 19 at Vintage House.

« Rwanda was full of unexpected revelations, » Joiner told The Sun. « The country, still recovering from the trauma of the genocide 25 years ago, now has hope and promise of a better future, thanks to efforts to combat malnutrition among its children—and efforts to protect its rare animals like the mountain gorillas I visited with ‘up close and personal’ in Volcanoes National Park. »

 The goodwill mission was organized by Rwandan-born Sonoma philanthropist Anna Bimenyimana, the owner of Bon Marche Thrift Shop, and Cathy Webber of the local End World Hunger Foundation. During its two-week tour of the country, the group visited three national parks that are developing responsible ecotourism and are home to some of the world’s most endangered animals like the mountain gorillas and golden monkeys.

A key purpose was to learn how Gardens for Health International teaches rural families to grow organic gardens and cook nutritious food in an effort to combat childhood malnutrition in Rwanda, where 35 percent of children under five are malnourished, and many mothers suffer from AIDS/HIV. The Sonoma group saluted the organization at its 10th anniversary celebration with a contribution raised from Sonoma residents.

The program will include a slide presentation, plus Q&A with Bimenyimana, Webber, and Joiner who will share information about other « local-global » connections – and how Sonoma residents can get involved. Wednesday, February 19,, 5:30 to 7 p.m., 264 First St. East, Sonoma.