Build Healthy Relationships in100 Rwandan Couples

by Global Grassroots


Our project continues to teach the community how people would work to handle domestic violence through theaters. During these last months we have been performing for our target couples. The following story describes some culture barriers towards a developing community in brief.

In the play there is a woman who uses to deliver dead babies. At her first pregnancy when she delivered a dead baby, the husband and the whole family gave condolences to the wife. Then, the couple continues living in harmony. After one year and half, she became pregnant again. The family found a professional doctor who will be doing the follow up to the progress of the pregnancy. Unfortunately, after nine months she delivered a dead baby again. The conflict started, and the husband’s family refused to bury the baby at their place saying that they don’t like any evil wife. Then, friend came and discussed the issue. Finally, they accepted to bear a burden of burying the body.

Since then, the husband was asked to marry a new wife, so that he can have a baby. He needed first to divorce legally with her current wife, for him to be allowed to marry another wife. As a result, he started approaching his wife, in order to start the process of divorce. One day he asked the wife out so that they would discuss the issue of divorce together. As the wife was unaware, she thought that the husband had a plan to kill her, and she refused the invitation. When the husband came back home, he denied to speak for one week, which made the wife get worried. The wife asked the husband what was going on, but he kept the silence. The wife decided to go back home to her mom who is a widow, but before packing her stuffs she called the mom on phone. The mom told her that she should be submissive to any request from her husband rather than leaving him, and she added that is how things have happened between wives and their husbands since the beginning. In other words, the mother forbade her to come no matter what made her make that decision.

The next day, the husband gave her another invitation, and she accepted. They had a long discussion, and the wife refused to divorce. As a conclusion to the discussion, the husband gave her the last chance but for only one condition: “no longer giving birth to a dead baby”. Few months later, she got pregnant again, and again the baby also died. The in law family sat down and said that it was enough. They went directly to the authority in charge to ask for a divorce, although finally they have been informed that no law admits divorce just because of delivering a dead child or not having a child. Therefore, their request was not considered. Interested in what happened? Please don’t miss to read our next report.

Our theater continues to be a favorite for many people in our community. We are glad that our message is being spread widely and fast to a large number of people that we could not even count. We would like to thank our donors for this achievement. It is very interesting to see how our program is bringing a positive impact in our society.


Thank you very much again.

Achieving a Better Life continues to grow.  In the last three months we continued hosting theatre performances, each about a different face of domestic violence or the undervaluing of women. Our team continually strives to improve our project, distributing evaluations after performances and surveying community members, then responding to criticism and modifying their programming to engage in the most prevalent issues. This March we performed a play shows different images of a barren woman in Rwandan community. We are teaching the community basing on their views. The play shows many different advices given to barren women in our community. They are the following: Consulting witch doctors, where sometimes are stolen a lot of money and asked thing which are not viable. For Christians, they are advised consultating pastors. The play shows that the right way to handle barren issue is looking for medical doctors. 


After working on that issue, ABl adopted a new strategy to reach more couples faces the same problem for more understanding of advises. We found that when we do performance, we meet a great number of women and men. Our target is to change the mindset regarding some cultural taboos. This has been done and comments are great. Every body is saying that, ABL is doing a great job. Many people are calling me day and night to congratulate, we are real happy to touch the heart of people.


Achieving a Better Life

“What does ‘gender equality’ mean to our beneficiaries?

January 2012

During the last few months, we took the opportunity to visit some of the couples we work with at their homes. We wanted to hear their views on gender equality, and to learn how it plays out in their homes and in their community.  We visited a handful of selected couples in each area where we work to get a representative sample of opinions, and we ‘interviewed’ them, having a guided conversation and letting them give their point of view. Our objective was to learn if and how we could help each couple understand what true gender equality would look like in their lives. Our team interviewed many couples and recorded certain points from the conversations to measure the trends in opinion and belief. 


We learned that there are still both men and women who believe that a girl’s or woman’s duty is to clean the house and/or compound, wash the dishes, do the laundry, cook, care for the children, and fetch water— all while her brother or husband sit and wait to see that the food is ready, and then be served where they are sitting. We found this mindset prevailed in about one third of the couples we visited.


There are both positive and negative opinions about gender equality among our sample couples. We took the time to ask men and women what ‘gender’ meant in their lives. Some said that it means that girls go to school, women have a role in making decisions, and that women are allowed to get jobs. However, we also talked to people who believe that the boys would be the first priority for schooling, and that women should not give advice about important things. Around 20% of the people we spoke with said that ‘gender’ is the issue that women manipulate in order to rule over men.


We also wanted to know the impact of the concept of ‘gender’ in the couple’s life.

15% said that their lives changed because of they came to understand the concept. They started to share responsibilities, they sent their children to school, and they improved their financial well-being.

5% of the couples said they experienced conflicts because they understood gender equality to be a weapon women use to rule over men. It goes against the culture.

One woman reported she was beaten after going to an event for the women’s movement.


From our interviews, we concluded that we need to continue teaching both men and women. We also need more support to continue building healthy relationships between the genders in our communities. Please consider a donation to Achieving a Better Life for the women and men of Rwanda!

Achieving a Better Life, Late October/Early November Report

We will distribute part two of the series “Basket” (culturally translated as Secret) next week. The story continues with Kamurari, the husband with many lovers, as he starts to see consequences and learn lessons from his behaviors. He continues mistreating his wife but now recognizes the baby because it looks like him, and he is ashamed he told his family that the baby was not his. One day when going to sleep with a prostitute he loses his wedding ring and all his money. There is no peace at home because the wife realized that the girl in house is not his cousin, but his lover.

We also followed the other couple that Kanyamanza worked for, where his female employer was neglected by her husband and seduced him. Both the wife and the boy have been kicked out of the house, and the wife is now pregnant. The wife went back home to her family’s village, but there she suffered a lot of rejection.

            The husband who kicked out his wife after driving her to infidelity finds a new wife, but she is not in love with him. She just wants to seduce an easy man and take his money. Finally she persuades him to sell the house and buy a new one and register it in her name. What about the part of the house that belonged the first wife? It’s confusing.

            Kanyamanza, the domestic worker seduced by his employer then kicked out of the house, went to live with the headmistress,who wanted to marry him. But, the woman forgets that he is her fiancé; in her mind he is still a domestic worker. He knows how to do the household chores so well, so she always gives him too much work instead of too much love. Kanyamanza is unhappy.

            The young boy Gahigi who kept switching girls sleeps with someone who is HIV positive. He wasn’t using a condom.

In this second part we raised another cultural issue. In this new couple, the husband is very devoted to his wife but struggles to balance his love for her with his love for beer. He often has to choose between accepting the wife’s desire or going to the bar. He starts making funny choices, saying that he will not enter the bar because the wife asked him not to go in, so instead he will drink beer at a table outside. Then, his friends start telling him that he is powerless because he accepts the decision of a woman.

            Soon, we will prepare the third part.

Achieving a Better Life, Late September/Early October Report

Achieving a Better Life is promoting healthy relationships in Rwandan society. We are coming out with another new movie.

The movie is called Agaseke, which means “The Secret” and is represented in Rwandan culture by a traditional basket. We tell the stories of two different couples, raising issues that are barriers to having good marital relationships. We did not forget our youth.

In the story “Basket” we meet two men named Kanyamanza and Kamurari, who is married to the woman Umunyana. The two men are twins but people can tell them apart by their different behaviors. Kamurari is married but his twin Kanyamanza is a domestic worker.

At the beginning of the story, Kamurari gets married to Umunyana then starts to change. He has many lovers until he brings home a mistress who was a student and is now pretending to be his cousin. The story tells how he refused to accept responsibility for his wife’s pregnancy, how he mistreated her during her pregnancy, and how he disrespected her with the name he gave to the baby.

The second couple is the family with which Kanyamanza lives as a domestic worker. The husband is the stereotypical man who is always busy with the work and doesn’t care about his wife until the time the wife gets tired. In Rwandan society, it is usually the man who decides when the couple will make love, so our aim with these scenes is to teach women to leave their fear and have a conversation with their husband. In our film, the wife summons the courage to ask her husband ‘why.’ She explains to him that she needs sex sometimes, too. However, the husband didn’t take care of the situation although it was serious. One day, he ran off for work while his wife was making a surprise for his birthday. Then in the end, the wife, who told him that she needed affection, comes to seduce the domestic worker Kanyamanza, who is a very nice man.

The message for the youth is about the current phenomenon that in our society now, boys want to marry rich women. They also have sex before marriage, saying that there are some who are better than others and they need to take advantage.  But AIDS could be waiting for them if they are not careful. That why Gahigi, who was in love with and engaged to a school headmistress, refused to marry her. So, the headmistress chose the domestic worker Kanyamanza as a lover, because he is a very nice person and treats everyone with respect.

These stories are the first installment of the series “Basket.” After distribution, 85% of a sample audience liked the family stories even more than the love stories, which shows that they appreciate the message we are bringing.  Many expressed thanks for raising these ‘secret’ domestic issues and congratulated Achieving a Better Life.


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Organization Information

Global Grassroots

Location: Portsmouth, NH - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Gretchen Wallace
President and Founder
Hanover, NH United States

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