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.
Thank you for following our project through the past couple of years! We appreciate all the support we’ve continued to receive.
After Alex and Melissa returned from Rwanda this summer, we’ve made some pig (ahem, I mean big) changes to the Maternal Health Education Program. For any of you who follow our reports, you’ll know that all the mothers who attend MHEP receive a goat at the end of the 10 sessions.
Over this past summer, however, Melissa and Alex talked with RVCP and the women in MHEP and decided that PIGS would be more beneficial than goats. Pigs reproduce more quickly, which allow the women to sell the offspring more quickly than with the goats. This ensures that they are able to buy more food and necessities for their families.
Along with this change, we are gearing up for our winter initiative. For the first time, we will be conducting biannual Maternal Health Education Programs to ensure that we are helping the maximum number of women possible.
Alex and Melissa, and members of RVCP, set up a reliable and long-term method of monitoring the results of MHEP. The head of the initiatives in Rwanda will collect surveys from the Rukira clinic and upload them to an online site so that we can all share the results. Once we have a database with enough information, we’ll look to analyze the data. Our hope is to expand the program beyond just Rukira!
Back in DC, our chapter has grown considerably and we’ve welcomed over thirty new members. This past weekend we were able to enjoy the beautiful fall weather on our fall retreat to a pumpkin festival in Virginia. All of our members – new and returning – are excited to begin our year of incredible events and awareness campaigns.
We are gearing up towards our annual 5K run that will occur in November. And already have started planning our big Benefit Dinner to occur Spring 2013. We are excited to get the GW and DC community out and supporting RVCP and the women in Rwanda.
That’s it for this fall’s updates! Short, but sweet. Thanks for reading, and thanks for your support! We’ll write back soon to keep you updated, and look out for our Global Giving Match Day!
Feel free to email us with questions or comments!
Katy Stewart and Melissa Wong
Muraho! Greetings From Rwanda
I'm happy to be writing to you from Butare, Rwanda where I have been living for the past month with my fellow GlobeMedder Alex Moran, and we will happily continue to reside in Butare until mid-July. During these eight weeks, we are working closely with the Rwandan Village Concept Project (RVCP), our partner of five years, to work first and foremost on the Maternal Health Education Program (MHEP) and to continue to build and strengthen our partnership with RVCP.
Achieving both of these goals fully occupies our eight precious weeks in Rwanda. In our work with MHEP, we help to coordinate and plan education sessions for 45 women who are involved in this year's cooperative. Every Sunday, we accompany a group of volunteers from RVCP who teach the sessions to the women at the Rukira clinic, where these women receive healthcare. The topics of these sessions vary by week, ranging from critical issues such as malnutrition, hygiene, important prenatal practices, and HIV/AIDS. This clinic and these sessions have been the focus of our fundraising efforts for the last five years and we will continue to support efforts to strengthen and expand the capacity of the clinic.
At the end of ten sessions, each of the women will receive either a pig or goat on the condition that they have attended a sufficient number of the sessions. The women of each year of MHEP sessions then form a cooperative and share a few large plots of land, provided by RVCP, and they work together to cultivate the land and harvest crops that provide a secondary source of food for their families and can be sold to contribute to the costs of renting and cultivating the land. These farming costs and the upkeep of the clinic are what we fundraise for throughout the year.
In addition to working with RVCP to hold the education sessions, we are also planning on visiting each of the women from the 2011 MHEP cooperative so that we can get their opinions retrospectively about the program, what could be improved, and how it has affected their lives after one year. By doing so, we hope to be able to better assess the needs of the cooperatives so that we can continue to maintain their sustainability.
Our biggest task this summer is to develop a long term method of monitoring and evaluating the results of MHEP. So far, we have distributed an entry survey to the 2012 MHEP cooperative to determine what they know about the topics that the education sessions cover, their perspectives on gender balance within their families, and their perspectives on their health and the health of their children. We will be distributing exit surveys at the end of the ten sessions so as to determine what the women have learned from the sessions and how their perspectives have changed, if at all. For long term data collection, we have created a survey to give to the clinicians at the Rukira clinic. Our vision is that each woman who comes to the clinic will receive this survey at reception, regardless of whether she has participated in MHEP in the past. This way, we can collect data on how MHEP has affected the lives of women in the cooperatives and compare it to data on the health and welfare of women who have not participated in the program.
In terms of strengthening our partnership with RVCP, Alex and I will be visiting each of the initiatives that RVCP has, even though we do not work directly with those programs. They include initiatives that serve to educate local schools and communities about malaria prevention, nutrition, hygiene, and HIV/AIDS awareness. (LINKS) We also have and will continue to enjoy living in the company of our partner organization, getting to know its members more intimately, and getting the chance to see their homes and university (The National University of Rwanda). Something we've been constantly reminded of is how similar RVCP members are to ourselves, as they too are university students working their way through school while also investing their time and spirit into global health projects.
As we continue to participate in RVCP operations, visit old friends, and learn more about our partner organization and Rwandan culture, I can genuinely and truly say that I am thrilled with the rewarding experience we have had so far and I cannot wait to bring back everything I have learned to our GlobeMed chapter at the George Washington University.
This has truly been the most exciting month of the year for GlobeMed at GWU and RVCP. In addition to our usual fundraising events, such as hosting a Bar Night at Rugby in Georgetown and a coffee house performance night at Bourbon Coffee, we successfully held our first annual Benefit Dinner and participated in the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGIU).
Our Benefit Dinner took place on March 24, 2012 in the City View Room of 1959 E St and featured a panel of public health experts, including CEO and President of EngenderHealth Pamela Barnes, Dr. Alan Greenburg, Mehret Mandefro, Professor Richard Skolnick, Dr. Zohray Talib, and Dr. Tamara Henry. The night was truly spectacular. We were thoroughly honored and humbled by the support that we saw in the attendees and learned so much from the thoughtful discussion of the speakers. The topics of conversation ranged from establishing health equity promoting non-profit organizations abroad to the barriers to healthcare in the United States today. We were able to fundraise about $1,000 for RVCP through ticket sales to DC residents and public health students at GW, our silent auction, and donations.
This past weekend, we were also incredibly fortunate to participate in the Clinton Global Initiative University, hosted by Bill Clinton on GW's Foggy Bottom campus. GlobeMed at GWU was represented by two groups of four people, representing two commitments to action regarding our participation in fundraising for the Huye Health Clinic. We committed to continuing our income generation project in RVCP's Maternal Health Education Program and to refurbishing the clinic's structural deficits in the next year. We attended two days of plenaries and workshops with the purpose of improving our committments and networking and attended a service project on the third day of the conference. The most exciting part of this weekend was that CGIU paid for a member of RVCP, Vincent Ndebwnimana, to speak in a workshop about how to motivate the youth. Maya Cohen, the executive director of GlobeMed's national office, also joined Vincent on this panel. In short, CGIU gave us the chance to network with some truly inspiring people while also giving us some quality time with a member of our partner organization.
As far as our partnership with RVCP goes, we are preparing to send this year's Grassroots Onsite Work (GROW) team to Rwanda on May 17th. In addition to our annual committment to fundraise the clinic's Maternal Health Education Program (MHEP), we are currently fundraising to help improve the clinic's walls and roof to increase the functionality of the clinic. Our GROW team is also hard at work on seeking to improve the monitoring and evaluation methods of MHEP so that new record keeping systems can be put into place by the end of the summer. We are approximately $2,000 short of our fundraising goal so far and while we have a few more fundraising events left before the end of the school year, any contribution that you can offer, no matter how small, will really help us and RVCP to maximize the benefits that the mothers enrolled in the Maternal Health Education Program and Income Generation Project will receive. Thank you for your continued support!
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