Help Vulnerable Women Become Leading Change Agents

 
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Aug 13, 2010

Transformation for Women in Rwanda

2010 Academy for Conscious Change
2010 Academy for Conscious Change

GLOBAL GRASSROOTS UPDATE

Global Grassroots US team recently returned from Rwanda where we visited our existing project teams and initiated our 2010 Academy for Conscious Change.This Academy cohort includes 37 participants representing 7 of the 30+ teams who applied. Having completed our intensive training, our teams will now embark upon the development of their own social ventures over the next 18 months. They are a highly motivated group working on a range of critical issues facing women:

Violence and discrimination against mothers of handicapped children Lack of clean water access and associated violence, exploitation, and disease Domestic violence Violence against and rejection of single mothers Malnutrition Teenage mothers with unwanted pregnancies (age 12-14) Education of girls, especially children of prostitutes

We anticipate great progress from these teams as we work with them over the next few months to develop sustainable ventures with a measurable social impact. We'd like to ask for your help in making that happen. Your financial contributions enable our efforts on the ground to improve the lives of the worlds most vulnerable women.

NEW TEAM PROFILE: A Friend Indeed: Combating stigma and violence against unwed teen mothers

In Rwanda sex before marriage is considered inappropriate, and so pregnancy out of wedlock is highly stigmatized. Pregnancy and birth control is often considered a woman's responsibility and the boys frequently take little responsibility. Even if the pregnancy was the result of sexual violence or exploitation, the girls, sometimes as young as 12, may experience rejection from family members, and possible expulsion from their homes. Forced into absolutely dire circumstances, there are stories of mothers falling into transactional sex in order to survive.

One of the teams from this year's academy, "A Friend Indeed," is working to advance women's rights awareness, entrepreneurship training, reproductive health education and parenting skills for single mothers. Its members also aim to educate their larger community through theater to fight the stigma against young, unmarried women who seek access to contraception. They have already established an initial program to provide emotional support and parenting help to unwed mothers who are on their own, visiting the mothers of 120 children once every two weeks, and providing education about sexual safety and birth control. Once they develop a sustainable program in their first location, they will expand their work nationally.

BRINGING BREATH AND YOGA TO RWANDA

For the first time in Rwanda, Global Grassroots implemented the Breath~Body~Mind (BBM) program developed by Dr. Richard Brown and Dr. Patricia Gerbarg (www.haveahealthymind.com). This program, integrating Qi Gong and Coherent Breathing, was introduced by Global Grassroots earlier this year in Haiti to support trauma relief for earthquake victims. We are conducting a program evaluation over the next year in Rwanda to assess how this group's symptoms of PTSD change with the continued practice of BBM.

We were also thrilled to have Yoga practitioner Jessica Spain join us to offer yoga each morning during the personal transformation practice portion of the program. On the first day she taught, yoga was met with a room full of nervous and embarrassed giggles, but the next day everyone told us that they wanted another session! It became a regular part of our morning and prompted Jessica to develop special series of poses she called "Yoga for Skirt Wearers".

Gretchen Wallace has coauthored an article with Dr. Gerbarg on the use of mind-body practices in post-disaster scenarios that will be published in an upcoming issue of the International Journal of Yoga Therapy. Gretchen will also be teaching a course at Kripalu September 6-10 for relief workers in Haiti on using breath for managing trauma exposure when working with traumatized populations. This offering is a collaboration with Suzanne Jones of YogaHope and David Emerson of the Trauma Center at the Justice Resource Initiative.

Be a part of Global Grassroots! Help us continue to offer innovative programs to train and support local change makers.

Thank you!!

Rwandan women doing yoga
Rwandan women doing yoga
A Team
A Team's Community Theater Performance

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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