Help Vulnerable Women Become Leading Change Agents

 
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Oct 7, 2014

Women Tackle Deep Issues Conected to Potable Water

Water. Deep Rooted Challenges Especially for Women
Water. Deep Rooted Challenges Especially for Women

Four women teams in Rwanda, focused on water issues, are in the final stages of developing their social ventures with the goal, and hope of being 70% funded by January 2015. These women's teams have each been out in their communities carrying out research to better understand the needs of their community members, in particular vulnerable women, and how they can address social issues that are described below.  These organizations are designed to solve a variety of social problems related to water and all include addressing some element of water scarcity, training in women’s rights and gender equality, hygiene, sanitation and proper water treatment. 

Trust Each Other (Abizeranye)
This venture based in Gasyata proposes to reach approximately 450 households (2700-4500 people) by bringing sanitary water to 10 umudugudus (villages). The group envisions the installation of a tank that will allow for easy access to water, preventing the sexual exploitation of women who cannot collect water on their own, and will train community members on how to purify water and the importance of good hygiene.

Hold Each Other (Tuzamurane)
With 20 members hoping to serve 300 households (1800-3000 people) near Ruhango, this venture seeks to address the critical issue of water scarcity in their community and the contamination of ground water shared with animals. Hold Each Other will establish a clean water access point by extending the municipal pipeline into their region and educate the community on good hygiene and sanitation through boiling water. The team is led by three women and two men, with education levels no greater than 6th grade. 

Hard Workers (Abanyumurava)
Hard Workers has been operating as a Global Grassroots-sponsored venture for over 5 years, serving approximately 9000 people in three distinct villages, focused on ending sexual exploitation of the vulnerable and disabled in exchange for water delivery. In addition to providing clean water through three water access points, this team of 17 wishes to expand their activities to train people how to properly clean dirty water containers, often the culprits of diarrhea.

Unite (Ubumwe)
This team of 8 members from the Rwabutabura-Rugarama Cellule-Nyamirambo Sector seeks to bring clean water to 300 households (1800-3000 people). With their new water access point, this group of women believes that they can institute a series of activities that will improve hygiene, reduce diseases, allow children the chance to study, and reduce poverty. The highest education level of the five attendees, ranging in age from 24 to 41, is third grade.

Each venture will involve operating a sustainable water enterprise as well as working on addressing the multiple dimensions of impact that a lack of clean water access has on women and girls, including health, sexual assault, economic limitations, obstacles to education and domestic violence. Your contribution helps bring each group one step closer toward that goal.  We are so grateful to existing donors who have already supported these women.  And to new donors who might be inspired to join, thank you so much as well. 

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. 

Links:

Apr 2, 2014

Effective Training Demonstrated by Three Ventures

A Friend Indeed - tailoring training
A Friend Indeed - tailoring training

Over the past three months, a number of updates from existing ventures help us see a common thread:  training as a way to advance their different missions.  Each team is demonstrating the power of their achievements through their focus on training. We have chosen to highlight their successes here:

A Friend Indeed

A Friend Indeed” continues to work on tackling a deeply set sigma faced by single mothers. In a survey taken before the project, 100% of their community members indicated the belief that single mothers are useless to society.  Here is how the team is working to combat these beliefs.

In the past three months through their training they have:

  •   helped 67 single mothers understand their rights on issues of violence and human rights.
  •   held 2-day training workshop on reproductive health and use of birth control system.
  •   reached out to 48 youth and taught them about reproductive health, specifically unwanted pregnancies.
  •   organized 249 single mothers in Byimana to manage their savings, dividing them into 9 groups.
  •   initiated sewing courses to help equip single mothers with skills so that they can be economically independent.

Kind People

"Kind People" continues to tackle the issue of women's lack of access to land and property rights, an underlying cause of domestic physical and economic violence.

They have trained:

  • 292 people (147 men and 127 women) from Kabagali sector, living in Rwesero and Munanira, Karambi, and Rwoga Cellules in gender based violence, the causes and consequence of violence, how to take care of victims of domestic abuse and violence and strategies to combat violence.  (Afterwards, team members selected 120 people who best exhibited change.  They also chose 3 people from each village who "changed their minds on violence." With additional training they are now formed in 10 clubs focused on actively helping reduce and/or manage cases of violence.)
  • 10 people (4 men and 6 women) working at the local authorities office.
  •  a group of people on a specific session "training the trainers"

Education for the Young Girls

This venture seeks to empower young women by keeping them in school.
In the past 3 months they report that they have:

  • continued reproductive health training, including activities that encourage school dropouts to return to school.
  • conducted a reproductive health and saving training workshop for 94 girls at school.
  • initiated a savings workshop to help prevent girls from dropping out of school because they can't afford the supplies or fees. (The team recognizes that many girls drop out of school because of poverty, and they believe that a saving workshop will prevent them from the option of taking up prostitution. As result of the workshop, most of the girls are working as a team to collect firewood and sell for money that goes toward school materials for themselves.)

While each ventures carries out a variety of beneficial training activities (and much more) they are also seeking out ways to become financially self-sustaining over the long-term.  Your contribution helps bring each group one step closer toward that goal.  We are so grateful to existing donors who have already supported these women.  And to new donors who might be inspired to join, thank you so much as well.

Education for Young Girls - Niyitegeka Rachel
Education for Young Girls - Niyitegeka Rachel

Links:

Jan 2, 2014

Change Agents Tackle Potable Water Challenges

Defining water venture priorities
Defining water venture priorities

Global Grassroots held an Academy for Conscious Change in October 2013 that included a cohort of 33 individuals (7 teams). These indviduals came with the shared goal of returning to their communities to solve a variety of complicated water issues as well as build their skills in social venture development. Six of the teams were from areas surrounding Kigali and one team was from Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Collectively, the teams represent 113 others from their extended communities.

Each group touched on universal, shared problems involving access to potable water with varying approaches and priorities for how to tackle them. 

They all seek to:

  • eradicate waterborne diseases
  • promote community health
  • end violence and sexual exploitation women face when collecting water for their families
  • ensure children attend school (without complications from collecting water or missing classes because of poor health relating to water-borne diseases.)

At the start of the October Workshop, fifty-seven percent of the group felt mostly or very ready to work on the root causes of the their water problems.  At the end of the workshop based on post-assessment responses, ninety percent of the group surveyed felt mostly or very ready to create social change.  This was promising feedback and points to how they perceived the effectiveness of the training.

During the Workshop, trainees had a chance to visit a successful, existing water venture.  It was a powerful experience as they got to see first hand what is possible to accomplish with some perseverance and trust in their process.  With a first grade education, a past trainee from a previous workshop showed these teams how she and her community team had set up a water tank and started delivering potable water to homes in their community.  She also then discussed how she was able to turn the profits from the water tank back into the community’s sustained well-being through the purchase of livestock.   

Thanks to you, and other Global Grassroots supporters, these water ventures are now further shaping the activities that they seek to initiate in 2014.  We look forward to updating you on their progress.

Oct 2, 2013

Change Agents Are Making Significant Advances

"Have a Good Life" Change Agents
"Have a Good Life" Change Agents

On behalf of all of us at Global Grassroots, we thank you for your continued support of the work of our grassroots change agents.  Following are some snapshots of progress from a few select ventures. 

Since July, Global Grassroots venture, “Have a Good Life,” (with the mission of creating access to clean water as a way to help prevent violence against women), has continued to make excellent strides in helping people in their village.  This team of Global Grassroots graduates, who after achieving their initial priority of gaining access to water, have turned their focus to training people in the village about domestic violence.  While working on this objective they learned how little people understood the importance of good hygiene in relation to waterborne diseases and their own health. Now they are training village members about the importance of clean water and how washing carefully plays a critical role in their health. Sixty bars of soap were just distributed in the last training to press home the importance of good hygiene.

Another Global Grassroots venture, “A Friend Indeed” is continuing to work on creative ways to tackle a deeply set sigma that single mothers face. In a survey taken before the project, 100% of their community members indicated the belief that single mothers are useless to society.  This finding led to a training campaign of over 100 women that focused on the rights each woman has when faced with discrimination.  This training, which took place in June 2013, was considered so successful that the group now plans a next training on reproductive health for the winter of 2013 to help prevent unwanted pregnancies.  The biggest news from this group is that twenty women have launched a special initiative to raise money for the training sessions.  Just a few weeks ago in early September, they developed a plan for setting up a tailoring class to teach others how to sew. With a fee associated with the training, the plan is for the women who can afford the fee to help raise money for those who are unable.  The fee covers the cost of renting a space, the teacher’s time, and the supplies such as fabric, thread and needles.

News from a third venture, "Education for Young Girls", whose mission is to keep girls from missing school during menstruation, because of harassment and high drop out rates from school, demonstrates continued progress. Over the past few months, the venture has:

  • facilitated HIV testing for 255 students.
  • followed-up with parents of each student to engage them in actively supporting their children’s needs. 
  • led the building of a girls “chamber,” a private room where girls can wash their clothes during menstruation if needed, or use as a place to rest if they have cramps so that they do not have to return home.  
  • launched a fundraising campaign based on a local football match with donations targeted to cover the costs of  a doctor who will provide training on reproductive health.

These ventures are close to becoming financially self-sustained by their communities.  With your generous support each of these ventures will be that much closer to reaching its long-term goal.

Global Grassroots will be initiating its next Academy for Conscious Change on October 7 in Kigali with a cohort of teams specifically focused on water issues.  We look forward to updating you on our progress as we round out this calendar year. Thank you for your continued support, which enables grassroots women change agents across Rwanda to advance ther own ideas benefiting women and girls in their communities. 

Links:

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Organization

Project Leader

Gretchen Wallace

President and Founder
Hanover, New Hampshire United States

Where is this project located?

Map of Help Vulnerable Women Become Leading Change Agents