After Global Grassroots training in January, thirteen young women returned home to their communities, spread throughout Uganda, to implement their ventures. Reports back indicate that each of the girls is now on track implementing her project, with the exception of one student who is caring for an ill parent.
Here are three of thirteen student's venture descriptions as a sampling of their work:
Phionah, based in the far west corner of Uganda, in Kisoro, has a mission to eliminate early pregnancies among young girls in her community. She believes that when young girls are taught to learn respect for themselves and others, as well as how to make responsible choices, they will less likely become pregnant at an early age. Phionah is now working with girls from the ages of 12 to 18 who attend school as well as those who have dropped out of school. She is using the principles found in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, as the basis of the sensitizations (outreach
Based in Masindi, Christine is working on the issue of school dropout. The name of her venture is Arise and Shine Young Generation. She has witnessed many forced early marriages in her village because parents need income from their daughters' dowries. She has watched children drop out of school and engage in unhealthy behaviors like stealing, taking drugs, drinking, and even prostitution. Christine will carry out sensitizations at 3 schools, teaching a total of approximately 100 to 200 students. Christine will also work with parents to help them see the disadvantages of their daughters not finishing their educations.
Monicah, who lives in a small village called Kagadi, not far from the Congolese border, decided to work on a solution that helps discourage early marriages. She believed that candid conversations with young school girls between the ages of 12-18 years will help change minds. She is openly sharing with them the disadvantages of marrying early: domestic violence, abandonment, early pregnancies and health complications, among other things. She is working on finding girls who have chosen to marry early (before 18) to share their difficulties so that other young girls don't follow in their footsteps. She also plans to hold dialogues with parents to help them better appreciate the value of educating their daughters.
In three weeks, all thirteen students will reconvene in Matugga, for Global Grassroots mid-term training which gives them an opportunity to build and deepen their social entrepreneurial and leadership skills as well as their mindfulness and self care practices.
We are grateful to you for reading this update and caring about these courageous young women. For donors who continue supporting these change agents, and for new donors, thank you so much. We are deeply grateful.
Just this week Global Grassroots completed its second training of young women based at Cornerstone Leadership Academy in Matugga, Uganda. This year's students, having graduated from high school just one month earlier, were eager to learn everything they could about what it means to be a conscious social change agent. They were like sponges soaking in new lessons in personal transformation and social entrepreneurism.
Two days ago we dispersed - the girls returning to their home villages spread throughout Uganda. They are embarking on solving societal issues that are closest to their hearts: the high rates of school drop outs and the tenacious, widespread instances of early pregnancies and early marriages. The girls, coming from small, remote communities, know these issues intimately and are well aware that without the good fortune of their education and scholarships their futures would certainly be different.
Next week, Heidi Luquer, Global Program Officer, will head west, and Juliet Aber, Uganda Program Associate will head east, to follow-up with each student in her home village. With an Award Letter and small seed grant in hand, the girls will now embark into the hard and courageous work of tackling difficult issues they believe they can transform. We will report back over the next 6 months on how these students make out before they head to university.
We are so grateful for your contribution which goes directly to supporting the training of these fine, young women.
Just six weeks ago, all eleven students, the first attendees of Global Grassroots Academy for Conscious Change in Uganda, successfully graduated after completing the implementation of their social ventures. The program was carried out in partnership with Cornerstone Leadership Academy, a unique school for high-performing girls selected from impoverished communities throughout the country.
Each of the girls was remarkably successful in carrying out her social venture. They applied all that they had learned: social entrepreneurship skills, leadership training, personal transformation exercises and mindfulness practices. Then they returned home to transform the unique societal ill they sought to address with their newly acquired skills. Their issues ranged from early marriage and teen pregnancy to domestic violence, school drop outs, high unemployment and limited entrepreneurship skills.
The eleven high school graduates who took part in this unique curriculum each impacted their communities significantly. Global Grassroots staff visited the girls in their villages to witness the girls with their beneficiaries and see their impact first hand. It was described as exhilarating. Each girl had made a significant impact: ranging from how they had touched their beneficiaries to the relationships they had developed with stakeholders. The social benefits and ripple effects of good will and transformation emanating from each girl and her particular social issue were powerfully present and palpable.
It would not be possible to write about each student so here is Brenda's story.
Brenda grew up as an orphan after having had both her parents die when she was age 11. Her teachers were worried about her for years because she always appeared depressed and rarely spoke. Through our Academy for Conscious Change, Brenda implemented a comprehensive program dealing with school drop-outs in her home village, where 50% of girls in her region had already dropped out due to teen pregnancy, early marriage and a poor farming season. She took 15 other orphans under her wing and sensitized the community on the value of girls completing school. She developed a loan saving scheme among 27 girls and ten parents to set aside school fees, found sponsorship for one orphan, developed a piggery project where the piglets will be sold to earn more school fees and convinced two other drop-outs to return to school. But more than anything, it was the self-reflection and opportunities to use mindfulness to attend to her fears, identify her passions and heal her trauma that made the greatest difference. She told us how grateful she was for this program and that “her heart had been healed”. She attributes her self–confidence, her emotional wellbeing, her accomplishments and her newfound joy to the work she did through Global Grassroots.
As a result of the significant success of this pilot program, Global Grassroots will continue its partnership with Cornerstone Leadership Academy in Uganda and we look forward to working with more high school graduates in 2015. We look forward to updating you on the next group of girls that seek us out to learn the skills they want to transform their communities. And if you've read this update and contributed, thank you so much. We are deeply grateful for your support which enables change agents across Uganda to advance ther own ideas which are directly benefiting women and girls in their communities.
In our last report, in April, Global Grassroots happily reported the launch of three new ventures. The 18 girls working on these ventures had a follow-up, 2-day workshop which provided them a chance to come together and learn of each others progress while further refining and developing Global Grassroots' unique blend of leadership and entreprenurship skills combined with personal transformation and mindfulness practices. Global Grassroots' Program Officer, Gyslaine described her enjoyment in hearing what she describes as "amazing" feedback from these girls since they started working in their communities. (As a reminder, the topics of the ventures spearheaded by the girls are: to reduce the number of street children; reduce the number of street girls who do not go to school and; reduce poverty against women and girls through family planning training.)
All eighteen girls shared their inspiring feedback. Here are just a few direct quotes from the girls that offer a feel of the transformation they recently experienced. Their words below are kept exactly as spoken, to the greatest extent possible.
"As a leader, I have realized how much I bring value to my society. Before this program, I wasn’t sure if I could stand in front of many people or gather them to teach something that they think I have less experience in. Through the step of Implementation, I could see what community thinks of me and what are their expectations."
"I also learned that I have ability or talent of conviction. I realized this when I have been able to help a street child to change her style life by convincing her to go back home and join school. Before I was afraid that I could not make it happen. I was not aware of my talent before attending and Practice Global Grassroots program."
"I have developed my leadership ability by using conscious program. There was no way I could be able to stand in front of people whom I consider older than them, and train them on something that I was expecting them to know better than I do. I used to think that adult people always have experience so I could not have any thing to share with them or have anything that can inspire them."
"From my experience as a social change leader, I have learned a lot from:
- Feeling and being aware of my challenges instead of avoiding them.
- Using Breath-Body-Mind technique to help to be aware of my environment and myself, in terms of avoiding to create harm to others. I have learned that I am the one to know how to manage the problems because the problems will always be there. I have learned and felt that I am a pillar of social change in my community."
We are so grateful to our sponsors who have either supported or continued to support these girls. Thank you so much. We could not have imagined sharing a more positive and promising report.
For the second year, Global Grassroots's conducted a Conscious Social Change Academy curriculum in partnership with the Komera Project based in Rwinkwavu, eastern Rwanda, at the Partners In Health Center. Eighteen girls joined this training to address social issues they identified in their communities. Based on merit, these girls were awarded seed funding to support ventures that they designed.
The girls formed three ventures with the following missions, in their words (with translation):
"To reduce the number of street children through providing school material to the most vulnerable 5 children, training on importance of the girls and children’s rights, and educating community on importance of girls’ education and children in general through drama. We will help with reintegration process where it will be possible."
"To reduce the number of street girls who do not go to school, by providing the training and using theater to mobilize and educate their relatives on the importance of sending both children to school, providing some school materials to the 6 vulnerable girls and doing advocacy for their rights."
"To reduce poverty against women and girls through family planning training, how to create jobs or businesses with personal small revenue available in community, and initiating livestock program among the most vulnerable families."
Global Grassroots' Senior Program Officer noted how effective it is to educate social change agents at this juncture of their lives. Girls suddenly have new skills as well as a new found ambition with which to focus their energy.
For sponsors who contributed to supporting these girls in the first year, thank you so much. This year's group of eighteen girls shows great promise. We are deeply grateful for any new or continued support. We will be sure to let you know how their ventures progress as 2014 unfolds.
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