Help Vulnerable Women Become Leading Change Agents

 
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Preparing materials for first awareness campaign
Preparing materials for first awareness campaign

There is a saying to the effect that “when you give me fish you feed me for a day but when you teach me to fish and give me a hook, you feed me for life.”

This saying did come true in the life of Waribu Cing Wa (Unity is Strength) Women’s group. Their mission is to reduce the problem of work overload for women in their community by sensitizing their communities about the benefits of sharing both productive and reproductive work within the household for a healthy and happy community.

Having successfully completed their training, and conducting an indepth issue study, the group received funding for their second tranche just two weeks ago. They have now embarked on purchasing items they need to reach their mission of reducing the challenge of work overload for women in the community.  The attached picture shows group leaders taking stock of items purchased for the group in preparation for their sensitization (awareness building) sessions in the community.

The launching of the group is indeed a dream come true for not Just Waribo Cingwa but also seven other Women’s groups that were also launched in Gulu. They will be tackling social issues ranging from illiteracy, domestic violence, Women’s lands rights, HIV/AIDS and Women’s participation in leadership.

Links:

Kind People team member at work
Kind People team member at work

As reported directly from the field:

Global Grassroot's women's group, United People and Kind People led by two different groups of remarkable women report in on their progress as 2015 begins.

The Venture, United People, located in the Southern Province of Rwanda, is working with four groups of beneficiaries who are engaging in tailoring, making handcrafts with banana leaves, and carpets and small baskets with sisal as a way of raising money to train couples about gender balance and domestic violence. The group describes many challenges such as the issue of finding the right place to sell their items and only having the use of one sewing machine.

The team reports that some of their goals in working to reduce domestice violence have been achieved.  After training several women in making handcrafts they were able to award domesticated animals to couples whose behavior had changed the most significantly. Additionally the group was able to mobilize women to participate in income generating projects as a way of reducing their economical dependence, often the biggest trigger of violence.

The team trained a total of 40 couples who were most affected by domestic violence its causes and its consequences. They taught 35 women to make handicrafts who are now able to generate income that is helping them with the basic needs for their families. Five community members were taught sewing, and were then able to earn money from what they made.

Kind People, also located in the Southern Provence, in the Kabagali Sector, is also working to alleviate the root causes of domestic violence.  Their focus is on protecting women’s rights and promoting legal marriages by training men and women about the laws protecting the family and creating clubs to advocate for women’s rights.

One member described, "After getting training on social entrepreneurship by Global Grassroots our dreams of fighting violence in the community came true because of the grant which Global Grassroots  offered to us..."  The team also describes a split.  Seven team members decided to stop their work for a number of different reasons, including, for instance, the fact that they changed their residences, and some realized they did not have a natural affinity to being a change agent.

The remaining eight members are firmly committed and have created a conflict resolution commission, which helps them follow up with those cases after they are taken to the local authority.  The Conflict Resolution Commission allows Kind People to assist in problem solving and they have weekly meetings.

Recent accomplishments:

  •  70% of couples in Imudugudu say that violence has decreased.
  • 65% of women who attended the training have the right to access their property.
  •  Half of the couples who were illegally married at the beginning of the training decided to legalize their marriages
  • 75% of couples are still together after training provided by the members.

The team is fundraising with the goal of reducing the amount of monthly dues requested of group members.  Any donations would do towards this.  And if enough money is raised the group would like to rent an office rather than meet in the house of a team member.  Additionally, the team reports that because they are all over 50 years old they would like to bring their program to youth as a priority in the coming year.

The team is deeply grateful for the generosity of those who have contributed to date and feels continually blessed by your consideration.  They extend their heartfelt thanks.

The Kind People team
The Kind People team
United Team Members
United Team Members
Recently made handicrafts of United Team members
Recently made handicrafts of United Team members
Handicraft making to support domestic violence
Handicraft making to support domestic violence
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. 

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:

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

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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