RVCP and GlobeMed have worked closely together for more than five years on the Maternal Health Education Program in Rwanda. Like all sustainable partnerships, there comes a point when the organizations turn the program over to the local community so that they are able to take full ownership. This year, that is what RVCP and GlobeMed at GW have been working toward. We have worked with RVCP to help the women's cooperative go through the application process to become certified and recognized by the government and therefore eligible to receive government support in the following years.
Along these lines, the government of Rwanda has showed interest in rice harvesting and so have the women of the cooperative. The cooperative has decided that growing rice will be more profitable than harvesting crops such as potatoes and corn, given the working conditions they have. Since this is important to the women, and what they want to spend their time on, GlobeMed has chosen to help them start this project for the first year including renting the land, and purchasing the necessary start up costs. In addition we are trying to set up a meeting between the government agricultural specialist and the cooperative so that the women are fully trained and educated on what it takes to grow a successful rice crop.
We hope to see the women's cooperative successful in a project that they have chosen to pursue and would love your help in assisting with the start up costs of their vision.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
GlobeMed at GW has been working hard to raise funds for RVCP this semester. A couple weeks ago we held our bi-annual Run for Rwanda at the Georgetown waterfront. Thanks to our amazing Campaign Team Leader, Tori, and Campaign Coordinator, Becca, the event was a huge success. We were able to integrate with the greater DC community and spread awareness about GlobeMed's mission and our work with RVCP.
In addition, our chapter has been collaborating with RVCP, and the members of the cooperative to create a business plan to expand the income generating activity beyond agriculture. Over the past three years the cooperative has grown to include nearly 150 members. These women have developed a voice of their own and have expressed interest in creating another income generating activity so that they aren't dependent on only one resource. This year RVCP, GlobeMed, and the women in the cooperative have worked together to brainstorm different income generating activities that would be feasible in Butare. This process has involved meetings with the RVCP alumni, other NGOs such as Gardens for Health, and the local governmental agronomist to create a realistic busines plan. This process will not only assist the cooperative in becoming more sustainable, but creates community involvement and investment in the cooperative.
Molly and Priya
We hope you all had a great summer; we know we did. Five students from our chapter spent 9 1/2 weeks in Butare, Rwanda working with our partner and evaluating our Maternal Health Education program (MHEP). This is the sixth year we have sent GWU students on the Grassroots On Site Work, or GROW, program.
Molly, Maddie, Hannah, Abhi, and Natasha worked with RVCP to understand how MHEP functions and create a plan to improve the sessions in the future. After evaluating the program, RVCP and the GROW team decided to implement a new teaching structure, which included small-group discussions that engaged the women and strengthened their understanding of how to improve their family's health. The GROW team also visited the women from the 2010 cooperative, our first MHEP group, to see where they are now and get their perspective on improvements. They learned that the womens' suggestion aligned with RVCP and the GROW team's evaluation. The womens' greatest need was for better agricultural training to ensure better crop production. With improved crop production, the women will be able to increase their income and purchase their family's health insurance every year. Finding and funding an agricultural specialist for all of the women in the cooperative is our top priority for the 2013-2014 school year.
In addition, the Huye Health Clinic, which was rebuilt in 2007 after being destroyed by the genocide, expressed the need for a fence around the clinic. This is to prevent livestock from coming into the cllinic and will reduce spread of disease. We have partnered with and supported the Huye Health Clinic since GlobeMed at GWU was founded in 2007, and we will be funding this construction project to better the community in which the women live.
We can not summarize an entire summer of amazing experiences, so visit our blog for more about GROW 2013: http://writingrwanda.wordpress.com.
Lots of GlobeMed love,
Molly and Priya, Co-Presidents
Happy Spring everyone!
The past few months have heralded great developments for both GlobeMed at GWU and the Rwanda Village Concept Project (RVCP). In April, our chapter held a Benefit Brunch at Bistro Bistro in Dupont Circle, featuring a panel of global health professionals that included Dr. Victor Barbiero, Dr. Tamara Henry, Dr. Mary Ellsberg, and Hyacinthe Mushumbamwiza. By welcoming GWU professors, the director of the Global Women's Institute at GWU, and the Coordiator of RVCP, we were able to have a fantastic discussion about maternal and child healthcare from a range of perspectives.
Six members of GlobeMed at GWU also traveled to GlobeMed's Global Health Summit in Evanston, Illinois. The conference consisted of more than 300 students from around the nation and featured such distinguished panelists as Leymah Gbowee, the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.
Finally, on April 20th, GlobeMed at GWU held its bi-annual 5K Run for Rwanda. While we had been planning on having this event since early on in the semester, we found ourselves in a difficult situation in light of the Boston Marathon Explosions. In an effort to stand in solidarity with those affected in Boston, we donated all of the proceeds from our 5K to the Red Cross, totalling approximately $900. We'd like to extend a special thank you to all of the runners, donors, and contributors who made our donation to the Red Cross possible.
On an international front, RVCP has been busy at work with implementing the February Maternal Health Education Program sessions, which are scheduled to conclude in late April. By splitting MHEP sessions into two smaller groups of women, the burden placed on the income generating cooperative that graduates enter into will be lessened. In this sense, the cooperative will be better able to incorporate two smaller groups of women rather than one large group of women into the income generating activities and will still be able to turn a profit. The next MHEP session begins in May, when five members of GlobeMed at GWU will journey to Rwanda to help develop the capacity building and monitoring and evaluation techniques of MHEP and RVCP. Be sure to check back for more updates as our exciting summer activities begin in Rwanda!
Happy New Year!
We are extremely excited to welcome the New Year with regards to GlobeMed at GWU's partnership with the Rwanda Village Concept Project (RVCP) and the Maternal Health Education Program (MHEP). January marks the beginning of the transition of RVCP's Coordination Board which leads the activities of the organization. After this process is completed, RVCP and GlobeMed at GWU will begin a newly designed Maternal Health Education Program in February.
Each round of MHEP adds 50 women to the income generating cooperative, therefore increasing the financial burden on the cooperative to make enough money to support the quickly growing group. This year, we have chosen to perform two rounds of MHEP, one in February and one in May when GlobeMed at GWU's GROW Interns will be in Rwanda. This decision was made in cooperation with the Income Generating Cooperative of mothers who have graduated from MHEP in the past three years. By executing two separate MHEPs, each with thirty women, we will be able to increase the number of mothers who can be enrolled in the program while minimizing the strain on the cooperative at large by reducing the number of women added at the completion of each MHEP.
In addition, the cooperative will be broken down into three groups, each with a designated activity for income generation: pig rearing, agricultural production, and market sales. This change was also requested by the women in the cooperative who suggested that more activities for income generation would help profits and encourage participation by women who may have talents in activities besides agricultural production. Pig rearing provides a significant profit due to the high demand for manure in Rwanda, as farming is extremely important to Rwandan life. The mothers involved in the agricultural production group within the cooperative are currently growing corn, which will be harvested in May. Finally, the third group will buy goods at local markets and sell them for higher prices at busier markets. We are extremely optimistic and excited to see how these changes will benefit the cooperative.
On the home front, GlobeMed at GWU has been busy with fundraising events in DC. Our most successful event of the semester has been our 5K Run for Rwanda, which we hosted on the Georgetown Waterfront. Looking forward, we are eagerly preparing for a Benefit Brunch on April 7th at Bistro Bistro where we will host a panel of public health professionals who will speak about challenges regarding Maternal Health in developed and developing nations (for more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org).
As always, we cannot thank you enough for continuing to support our efforts and the empowerment of women in rural Rwanda. Your contributions directly improve the ability of Rwandan mothers in the Huye district to provide for their families and gain valuable knowledge about their health and their children's health.
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GlobeMed at GWU Co-President