Help Vulnerable Women Become Leading Change Agents

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. 


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


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. 


Jul 2, 2013

Becoming Leaders & Creating Innovative Solutions

Attending Training with A Friend Indeed
Attending Training with A Friend Indeed

In the last few months, 3 teams of graduates from the most recent Academy for Conscious Change in Rwanda began official, autonomous operations. It is remarkable to watch previously marginalized women grow into respected community leaders and conscious change agents. We are thrilled to share with you some of what they have accomplished, feats possible because of your financial support.

One of the ventures, A Friend Indeed, is working on the problem of violence and stigma against single mothers. The baseline study conducted by the team reveals some troubling information, including the fact that among single mothers surveyed, 91 percent of the pregnancies were undesired, and 49 percent of respondents report having no knowledge of reproductive health. Still more troubling, 92 percent of these single mothers experienced violence during their pregnancy and 100% of community members surveyed said that a single mother was useless to society 

In June, the team hosted their first training with 140 single mothers on human rights to help them have more knowledge and confidence in standing up for their rights.  They bestowed 67 certificates of completion to single mothers and other community members who completed the full program. Additionally, seven of the mothers who were outstanding in their attendance, participation, and practice of new skills were also awarded chickens in a special ceremony.

Their next endeavor will be to conduct a training program in reproductive health with young people in the community to begin to improve education so as to prevent further unwanted pregnancies.

A second team, Kind People, working in the Ruhango District of Rwanda's Southern Province received a grant from Global Grassroots to buy their motorbike. This venture is designed to protect women's property rights an issue that is often a trigger for domestic violence. The motorbike represents the kind of innovating thinking, problem solving, and sustainable venture design that is taught at the Academy for Conscious Change. Not only will the motorbike allow team members to reach the hundreds of women and 22 anti-violence clubs they have started in remote villages it will also act as a revenue-generating taxi to support the teams ongoing operation costs.

We wish to thank you again for your generous donations and hope that you will consider continuing to support these remarkable women and others like them as they create a better world. 

Outstanding Graduates are Awarded Chickens
Outstanding Graduates are Awarded Chickens
Kind People
Kind People's New Motorbike
Kind People Team Member
Kind People Team Member

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Project Leader

Gretchen Wallace

President and Founder
Hanover, New Hampshire United States

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Map of Help Vulnerable Women Become Leading Change Agents