Achieving a Better Life has temporarily put on hold its domestic violence theater program, as its director, Charlotte Nyiraneza, has been asked to take on increasing responsibility and leadership roles for her other fulltime job. As is often the case with Global Grassroots' change agents, our venture founders demonstrate substantial leadership capacity and are often promoted within other organizations, run for office or apply our skills to solve other problems in their community. At this time, this program will be discontinued until the organization has the opportunity to dedicate more time to its operations. We extend our deepest gratitude for your support of Achieving a Better Life and its extraordinary work.
Achieving a Better Life was one of the first ventures trained by Global Grassroots through our Academy for Conscious Change in 2008. Their program uses community theater to raise awareness about domestic violence. They have made remarkable impact in the four years they have been operating. Since 2009, this team has performed roughly every month in five communities within Kigali on the topics of domestic violence, violence against domestic workers, adultery and bearing children out of wedlock. Their performances have been attended by ever growing crowds - over 1,200 at each of the first three performances of 2013. The reaction of the audience during the hosted discussions afterwards is very positive. Many women have reported that following the performance, they have gone to seek help for domestic violence and have talked to their husbands about how to improve their relationships. Many men also attend the performances, and have stated that they have started to think more seriously about how they treat their wives. Since beginning the performances, domestic violence rates in these communities has been reduced by 60%. The team has also produced two full-length films on the topic of domestic violence and marital relations.
The group was awarded a tender by the American NGO, Intrahealth, to perform a theatre on domestic violence for the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence, an event attended by the director of USAID, the US Ambassador, and the Minister of Gender. In February 2009, they performed the very first V-Day Vagina Monologues in Rwanda, adapted to a Rwandan context with monologues of Rwandan women, tackling tough and taboo topics not often discussed publicly. On International Women's Day in March 2009, the team was invited by the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion to perform one of their plays, which was broadcast nationwide three times, reaching at least 25,000 people. Project leader Charlotte Nyiraneza won the World Pulse Second Annual Bold Ideas Contest in January and was even nominated for a CNN Hero Award. When possible, Achieving a Better Life continues to perform new plays and hopes to make another film about the oppression of Rwandan women.
Without your support, this impact would not have been possible. When Achieving a Better Life is able to resume their program activities, they will return to GlobalGiving. To help other amazing women survivors of war like Charlotte advance social change, please consider supporting Global Grassroots' Academy for Conscious Change program by clicking here: http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/conscious-social-change/
It is hard to start talking about our project's progress without sharing the testimonials from couples in our community. As we continue expanding our activities more couples are approaching us with such motivational insights.
Uwimana Immaculee is 45years old woman, and she is a mother of 5 children. In her testimonials she said :" It has always been like that. The husband is the head of the famly. The wives have no words to say about any decision made by the husband regardless that it even oppress innocent children. We grow up like that with our parents and ended up adopting it in our own families. Watching theaters and movies produced by this project is very educative. You watch and get inspired. Once women take actions things changes."
In her testimonials she tells us how she has been experiencing domestic violence since she got married ten years ago because of ignoring her rights. Immaculee had lived with her husband but whatever income her family would get she could not know how it was spent. Even when herself would get a job, it is only the husband who decided on how to use it. As a consequence, Immaculee and her children spent some nights without eating. The children dropped out of school, although the husband had a good salary from a permanent job. Most of the time the husband used to come back home drunk late in the night. He used to beat his wife and children, whenever they would ask for something. The mother and children experienced a miserable life and they weared old clothes. The husband was not responsible, and no one had got the courage to challenge him. Things changed when Immaculee started attending our theater performances, movies, and discussion.
She realized how much she has suffered and how the law defend her. Then, she decided to start claiming for her rights but in a peaceful way. She invited our team members as well as other families that had changed their bad behaviours. Listening to their advice and testimonial, the husband strted to change. First it was because he was afraid that the case could be reported to leaders and he had seen how the law does not tolerate such behaviours. Finally, the husband accepted to share. As a results, the children rejoined the school and Immaculee started deciding together with her husband how the money is going to be used.
These past three months, we have been performing theaters and showing our movies in different communities including women council meeting, schools, and youth centers. Everytime at the end of the movie or theater we organize a brainstorming discussion. We have realized that young people can be the engine to eradicate this domestic violence among couples. They are even the great tools for spreading the message to the whole family, and it prepares them to avoid repeating the same mistakes done by their elders.
The more testimonials we receive, the more grateful we feel for our donors. Any little or bigger donation makes a very big difference in the lives of our community. We can't thank you enough for your consistent support. We owe you an infinite thanks.
Gratefully we thank our donors for being our most important parners who helps in building family relation ships in our community. We can't find words to say it, but all we can say is an endless BIG THANK YOU TO DONORS.
Sometimes one can start worrying if the goal of eradicating this domestic violence could be achieved, but donors like YOU always brings the hope and certainty that it is possible. it is possible to have a community where almost every couple is about to divorce today, then the next day that community can be turned into a community where those couples has became role models of good change to other communities.
We are so excited to share with you how our team is achieving its goals. The progress of our project is very amazing, and its impact in our community is such promising. Our team performed theatres in our community the last three months (November, December, and January) as mentioned in our previous report. An estimate of 2500 people attended our theatre performance.
Couples are being united because of our performances. Muhire Francois is an old man from our community. He had brought another woman, because his legal wife Alice used to give birth to only girls. Alice struggled hard to raise their children alone. Francois only cared about his new wife, as he expected to have a boy with her. Unfortunately, the new woman gave birth to a girl, as a result François beats and rejected her. The husband has been following our performances and he realized that he made a mistake and wanted to bring back his real wife. Whenever Francois came to our performances he would ask his wife Alice to come back, but the woman refused to go back home with him. One day came to us asking for our help after seeing how our work influences the community. He wanted us to play an act describing his family’s situation hoping to convince other men who abused their wives. Fortunately, it made her wife return back home. “I gratefully thank you (Achieving a Better Life team) for your support in rebuilding my relationship with my wife Alice. I am with my wife again, because of your theatre performances.”
In the next three month, we plan to continue collecting testimonials from the community about the impact of our project. The experience of Francois convinced us to start playing theaters with topics from community members as a tool to heal the relationships. Husbands and wives, children and adults people are all interested in our performances.
The challeges that we are having is to repair some materials tha we use in our performances. In addition to that, we are not yet able to raise money that allow us to find salaries of our actors including transportation.
No matter those challenges, we want to continue our path and we will not stop until every one understand this issue and decide to fight it with us. The journey is still long, but this is our passion and we enjoy its taste.
Don't you think that sometimes people needs to be reminded about the effects of their bahaviors in onrder to help them find the right path to success?
Wow, this year's theme of the international women's day was there for a reason for sure. "A promise is a promise"
We can fight violence against women in every community, and all we need is to work hand in hand as anti violance activists.
Once again thank you!
We want to thank you, for your support is helping us to reach our mission of fighting against violence and oppression against women by educating the population about the causes and consequences of violence through drama theaters and films is being successfully achieved.
Our activities are positively making remarkable impact. The community members consider our program as a positive strategy for social change.
Since our last report, we directly reached 500 people in different area. This is beyond our expectation as we planned to only reach 200 People or 100 couples.
This November, December, and January 2013 we are playing theaters that teaches couples, in order to achieve our goal of reducing oppression of women by educating the community. In the theater performance we teach the community through showing the roots causes of domestic violence, its consequences and ways to handle to eradicate it in our household.
The story of the play
Our story is about physical and emotional violence in families.
In one family, there is a husband who refuses to give school fees to his children, while he was unfaithful towards his wife. He used to spend much money with different women so called lovers. One day he brought one woman at home lying that she is his sister. After few days he enrolled her to a school, and paid for her school fees. This causes conflict in the family, as they figured out that the husband has money, but he is too selfish to pay for his own children’s studies. At the end that husband made the other woman pregnant, and chased her.
In another family, a husband uses to be busy with work. He doesn’t care or have physical relationship with his wife, as a consequence the wife starts making love having love at work with her boss. After a while, she becomes pregnant. The issue was who is going to be the father?
In February we will launch our movie on domestic violence. Our movie reaches uncountable people in our community. Our team has started to be famous and people wait with curiosity of our movies.
We plan to extend our activities, in order to reach more people by developing new partnership other organizations and network.
Our project continues to teach the community how people would work to handle domestic violence through theaters. During these last months we have been performing for our target couples. The following story describes some culture barriers towards a developing community in brief.
In the play there is a woman who uses to deliver dead babies. At her first pregnancy when she delivered a dead baby, the husband and the whole family gave condolences to the wife. Then, the couple continues living in harmony. After one year and half, she became pregnant again. The family found a professional doctor who will be doing the follow up to the progress of the pregnancy. Unfortunately, after nine months she delivered a dead baby again. The conflict started, and the husband’s family refused to bury the baby at their place saying that they don’t like any evil wife. Then, friend came and discussed the issue. Finally, they accepted to bear a burden of burying the body.
Since then, the husband was asked to marry a new wife, so that he can have a baby. He needed first to divorce legally with her current wife, for him to be allowed to marry another wife. As a result, he started approaching his wife, in order to start the process of divorce. One day he asked the wife out so that they would discuss the issue of divorce together. As the wife was unaware, she thought that the husband had a plan to kill her, and she refused the invitation. When the husband came back home, he denied to speak for one week, which made the wife get worried. The wife asked the husband what was going on, but he kept the silence. The wife decided to go back home to her mom who is a widow, but before packing her stuffs she called the mom on phone. The mom told her that she should be submissive to any request from her husband rather than leaving him, and she added that is how things have happened between wives and their husbands since the beginning. In other words, the mother forbade her to come no matter what made her make that decision.
The next day, the husband gave her another invitation, and she accepted. They had a long discussion, and the wife refused to divorce. As a conclusion to the discussion, the husband gave her the last chance but for only one condition: “no longer giving birth to a dead baby”. Few months later, she got pregnant again, and again the baby also died. The in law family sat down and said that it was enough. They went directly to the authority in charge to ask for a divorce, although finally they have been informed that no law admits divorce just because of delivering a dead child or not having a child. Therefore, their request was not considered. Interested in what happened? Please don’t miss to read our next report.
Our theater continues to be a favorite for many people in our community. We are glad that our message is being spread widely and fast to a large number of people that we could not even count. We would like to thank our donors for this achievement. It is very interesting to see how our program is bringing a positive impact in our society.
Thank you very much again.
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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
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