Global Grassroots

Global Grassroots is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Our mission is to catalyze women and girls as leaders of conscious social change in their communities. Global Grassroots' work is guided by four core values that form our theory of change: 1. Deepening personal consciousness and contributing towards the common good are both essential to social change. 2. One of the most effective levers of social change is a woman with the capability, resources, power, courage and inner commitment to initiate positive change for herself and others. 3. Sustaining and accelerating conscious social change requires investment in supporting, civil society architecture. 4. Mind-body trauma healing plus t...
Jul 28, 2014

Farming Brings Peace to Youths and their Community

Corn fields planted by the youths
Corn fields planted by the youths

As seen in the last update, the generous donations given to the Pei bwol Wa youth group were able to completely transform the way that these youths farm their land!  Ever since these donations were used to buy oxen and other supplies for these youths, they have engaged in extensive agricultural production at individual and group levels. At the group level, they opened five acres of land with their oxen and planted maize (corn) and ground nuts which are due for harvesting at the end of July, 2014.  The group also planted ½ acre of onions which they will harvest between August and September 2014.  The Pei bwol Wa youth group is also planning to open up ten acres of land in the second (upcoming) season (August to December 2014) for commercial agriculture.

The group has also used their newly opened land to raise money for the group by selling opened farm land to community members in Gwengdiya parish.  For example,  the youth group charges the community 65,000/= while others charges 85,000/= for opened farming land, which makes the land profitable for the youths and a cheaper option for community farmers interested in purchasing land. The group has also helped to educate their community members on how to open the land using oxen by setting up a demonstration field where they train other members and the community on how to use the Ox-plough.  The income generated through the selling of land and crops is currently being used for the maintenance of the Ox-plough and oxen treatment, and for purchasing pesticides and herbicides for farm use.

Another important impact of the introduction of mechanized farming to the youths is that it has decreased domestic violence and general violence against women in the community at large.  The reason for this reduction of household violence is related to labor division between men and women in the community because previously, women carried the greatest burden in terms of land opening. However, the use of the oxen and Ox-plough has made it possible for women in the community to spend less time in the fields which has placed less pressure on these women and caused for less fighting and friction between these women and their husbands.  It has also given these women more freedom in terms of how they spend their time and has allowed them to experience more food security in their individual households. 

Thanks to the generous donations received, the Pei bwol Wa youth group has been able to succeed and strive and even reduced violence and empowered women in their community.  As the youths continue to grow their agricultural endeavors they will be able to continue this success.  

Onions planted on land with newly purchased oxen
Onions planted on land with newly purchased oxen
Jul 2, 2014

Girl Change Agents Challenge the Status Quo

Josie teaching
Josie teaching

In January 2014, eleven girls from disparate parts of their poorest parts of Uganda convened for three weeks of intensive training offered by Global Grassroots after they graduated from high school. They were like eager sponges.  They soaked up social entrepreneurship skills, leadership training, personal transformation exercises and mindfulness practices.  And in spite of all this, they quietly wondered if they really had the skills, ability and confidence to return to their home communities and put into action, ventures that they had just (remarkably) designed on their own. Without realizing it, they had already accomplished a lot: the creation of a social mission and plan of action to tackle troubling and enduring issues: school drop outs, unemployment, domestic violence, early pregnancies - that they determined they would try to change - alone.  At least at first. 

Could they do it?  They were asking themselves, and we too were not sure what was possible. Afterall, these girls were the pioneers, the first group of girls to be trained in Uganda by Global Grassroots. Global Grassroots had never trained girls to start a venture alone, independently, without being part of a team.  So when we reconvened in May, it was with pure joy that the girls effusively shared their progress.  "What was your biggest surprise," we asked?  And the consistent answer from each one was disbelief that adults from their communities were willing to listen to them.  And not only listen to them but go on to support them in innumerable ways including time and resources.

One of Global Grassroots' trainees, the highest level educated from her village (located, west, near the Democratic Republic of Congo) turned down two job offers because she was determined to make an impact on the troubling, pervasive issue of girls marrying early and dropping out of school.  When she started training, she has 120 eager girls who wanted to hear what she had to say.  Josie figured out how to manage training large groups of girls at the same time, and then started an intensive training session for the more serious 40 girls on Saturdays. Josie's project so inspired her local council leadership that she was invited to be part of the Town Council Meeting.

Another trainee, Harriet, offered lessons on the issue of dropping out of school, and she first remembered, "I did not think that I was of great value to the community... but when I started talking to the girls many people were happy and gave me encouragement.  The girls - they have hope to study and finish.  They are always promising to not let me down."

And one other student, Kellen, was deeply disturbed by the domestic violence in her community and courageously took on this issue. She returned from Kabale, her home community saying, "I have learnt something great... I didn't know that I am courageous and that I can speak and people listen to me .... and even in giving out the lesson I was feeling strong and firm."  She now has people in her village discussing a new policy that will limit the bar hours to help diminish the incidences of domestic violence which are mainly caused by over drinking.

These are only three of eleven success stories.  And certainly the girls faced challenges.  Many.  They were continually hassled about "the whites," or that they must be making money, or why weren't they getting something from this work?  And they didn't find answering these questions easy.  They each described to us and their classmates (their "sisters") how they patiently listened and how they managed these encounters based on tools they had learned in their training.

Encouraged by their shared stories and equipped with new skills and tools from their May training, the girls return to our partner, and their former bording school - Cornerstone Leadership Academy - for a graduation ceremony this August before they head to university. To those of you who have supported Global Grassroots' Girls Academy for Conscious Change, we extend our deepest gratitude.  We look forward to updating you on their progress and encourage you to continue to support our training that supports these girls and their communities.

The girls have over 1000 beneficiaries
The girls have over 1000 beneficiaries
Examining a ledger
Examining a ledger
All eleven change agents at the May workshop
All eleven change agents at the May workshop
Jul 2, 2014

Successfully Whittling Away at Domestic Violence in One Community

Tailoring underway
Tailoring underway

Many of Global Grassroots' ventures are tackling difficult societal quandries with the courage and conviction that they can change their communities for the better.  This quarter, we are focusing on United People, a team of 7 Rwandan women. 

Global Grassroots' venture team, United People, seeks to reduce domestic violence by providing home visits and legal training to both men and women in their rural community or Byimana. They will personally visit, monitor and evaluate the homes of troubled couples and talk to them about peaceful conflict resolution. To change cultural norms in the next generation they will also provide training to couples preparing for marriage. United People will also foster strategic partnerships with legal experts to aid them in the creation of a curriculum on family law, health, reproduction and family planning. Finally, they will provide sewing lessons to women to help them earn their own income, reduce economic vulnerability and increase the level of respect they receive from their husbands.

United People hopes to decrease spousal abuse, lead more women to utilize family planning, and give women more power in their own households. They launched their venture in January and over 12 months, they aim to: 

  • Train 210 married couples in gender equity, reproductive health, family planning and HIV/AIDS prevention
  • Reduce domestic violence community wide from 50 to 25%
  • Reduce the amount of women who leave their families due to physical and emotional abuse from 50 to 25%

Initial results are encouraging. They report that over the past 3 months they worked closely with thirty-two people. They selected these individuals based on their income capacity and the amount of domestic violence they knew was taking place.  Specifically they:

  • Visited two families in conflict to help them solve their domestic disputes.
  • Followed up with seven families who received training in domestic violence issues to see how they were progressing.
  • Recruited 5 women to participate in a tailoring program to help them generate income to lesson their economic vulnerability and thus, risk of violence.
  • Worked with 9 families to help launch income generating projects raising pigs with a plan of sharing piglets with other community members once they reproduce.

The challenges the team has faced have pushed the members of United People to utilize their training in creative problem solving and local resourcing.  Some visits with families in conflict were initially unsuccessful because men were unwilling to meet them.  They resolved this challenge by recruiting friends of these particular men to serve as liaisons in getting the men to rejoin their families. They also worked to pool resources for unanticipated medical expenses for their piggery project. Members of the team have already trained others in tailoring and are now filling orders and earning income to support their mission of reducing domestic violence from the neighborhood community.

Not only has this venture begun to transform domestic violence for dozens of families in the community of Byimana, but it has given its members their first opportunity to act as change leaders in their community.  Your support enables Global Grassroots to provide the training and resources to catalzye these grassroots change agents. We extend our deepest gratitude and invite you to continue to support our work with women and girls in Rwanda. 

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