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
Violence against and rejection of single mothers
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.
HAVE PITY AND COMPASSION UPDATE
Global Grassroots is eager to support the launch of Have Pity and Compassion to train counselors to mediate issues of domestic violence and women's land rights. The team will also use theater, debate and films to inspire widows and youth to fight norms that accept gender violence and discrimination. Global Grassroots has funded three other theater projects to date, which have reached substantial audiences in fighting domestic violence. Once project, Achieving a Better Life, which was nominated for a CNN Hero award in 2009, has reached over 25,000 people with its theater performances. Local theater followed by debate is one of the most effective methods of engaging local populations in considering hidden social issues like domestic violence. We still need to raise $5000 to launch this project. Please consider donating again today and asking your friends and family to join you to help them get their start. We will keep you updated as the project begins their operations
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.haveaheathlymind.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.
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Help us continue to offer innovative programs to train and support local change makers.
Roughly 90% of Rwandans are employed in the agricultural sector and 93% of these workers are women. Despite these numbers and recent and seemingly progressive legislation around land rights, Rwandan women struggle to actualize their rights because preliminary requirements restrict the law’s protection, customary laws persist, and women are unaware these rights exist. Additionally, these laws only protect the property rights of women who are legally married, yet over 40% of Rwandan marriages are not legal due in large part to the high costs of marriage licenses, which are well over the average annual income. Women who are not aware of the benefits of legal marriage are often coerced to marry illegally, thereby disqualifying themselves from the law’s protection.
Global Grassroots deeply appreciates your support of this project aimed at protecting women’s property rights. To date, we have raised $25 of the necessary $5150.
Funds permitting, we will launch this and an additional seven social venture projects in Rwanda this year. In June, we will return to Rwanda to host our sixth Academy for Conscious Change and, in partnership with Jewish Helping Hands, offer training for our project teams in reproductive health, social-issue filmmaking, computer literacy, English, and trauma healing through yoga and breathwork.
We happily report the recent launch of Light in Our Home, a women-led project aimed at reducing gender-based violence and the stigma associated with reporting domestic violence in the Byimana sector of rural Rwanda. Additionally, we have been working in Haiti, offering the trauma healing portion of our program to women survivors of the earthquake.
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