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Help Vulnerable Women Become Leaders of Change

by Global Grassroots
Help Vulnerable Women Become Leaders of Change
Help Vulnerable Women Become Leaders of Change
Help Vulnerable Women Become Leaders of Change
Help Vulnerable Women Become Leaders of Change
Help Vulnerable Women Become Leaders of Change
Help Vulnerable Women Become Leaders of Change
Help Vulnerable Women Become Leaders of Change
Help Vulnerable Women Become Leaders of Change
Help Vulnerable Women Become Leaders of Change
Help Vulnerable Women Become Leaders of Change
Help Vulnerable Women Become Leaders of Change
Help Vulnerable Women Become Leaders of Change
Help Vulnerable Women Become Leaders of Change
Help Vulnerable Women Become Leaders of Change
Help Vulnerable Women Become Leaders of Change
Help Vulnerable Women Become Leaders of Change
Help Vulnerable Women Become Leaders of Change
Help Vulnerable Women Become Leaders of Change
Help Vulnerable Women Become Leaders of Change
Help Vulnerable Women Become Leaders of Change
Help Vulnerable Women Become Leaders of Change
Help Vulnerable Women Become Leaders of Change
Help Vulnerable Women Become Leaders of Change
Help Vulnerable Women Become Leaders of Change
Help Vulnerable Women Become Leaders of Change
Eternal Beauty Team, Kigali, Rwanda
Eternal Beauty Team, Kigali, Rwanda

Eternal Beauty is not only the name of our newest water team in Kigali, Rwanda, it is the perfect description of the powerful and lasting impact our programs have in vulnerable communities in East Africa.

Did you know that Global Grassroots programs are internationally celebrated for their sustainability? All water ventures created by Global Grassroots teams are still in operation and we have the highest water venture sustainability rates in our region. Of the 17 water ventures we have launched since our founding, 100% are still operating and financially self-sufficient, directly serving 75,000 people with clean water and other social services. Our oldest venture, run by mostly illiterate women, now serves 9,000 people in its 11th year of operations. The team leader is a mother of eight with only a first-grade education. This year she will see her eldest, a girl, attend university – the first in her family.

What makes us so successful? Global Grassroots operates at the intersection of four spheres, including personal transformation and trauma-healing, social entrepreneurship, international development, and women’s empowerment. Through grassroots partnerships, wise and remarkable women who have never had the opportunity to advance their own ideas, including those who are war widows, subsistence farmers, single mothers, genocide survivors, former sex slaves and forced combatants, those living with HIV/AIDS, and those with little to no education, are given the training and resources they need to create life-changing sustainable water projects.

Over the last decade we have learned that when women manage their local water access, the lives of women and girls are eternally changed. Further, a Women’s Water Leadership Initiative provides a sustainable source of income that allows our social conscious change leaders to pursue other social issues. Through our program, women demonstrate their value to their community, earn a livelihood, benefit other women and children, and realize their leadership potential, creating ripples of measurable outcomes including impacting gender relation; creating more time for economic pursuits; reducing and often eradicating water-related sexual violence and exploitation, making sure more girls are able to attend school regularly and on time; and reducing or eliminating water-borne illnesses.

Now that’s what I call eternal beauty.

Please join us as we continue to support these remarkable women making sustainable changes in their communities. We can’t do it without you.


Would you like to help more women transform their lives and their communities? Become a Global Grassroots monthly donor through GlobalGiving. When you invest in us, you invest in them. Please give today. Thank you for being on our team!

Creating the Venture Plan
Creating the Venture Plan

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One of our many program graduates
One of our many program graduates

Identifying our next women-led water teams in Rwanda is no easy task. First we must determine which areas have the greatest need that are within a reasonable distance of our Kigali-based staff. Then we meet with WASAC, the Rwanda municipal water authority, to discuss the locations of their main water pipelines and get their input on which areas would most benefit from one of our water ventures. Next, we connect with our network of women's groups, churches, and our own established women-led teams to help us identify other self-organized groups of women who want to create change in their communities through safe, clean water access. We then distribute applications. Taking all of those components into consideration, we select those teams that we believe have the drive, determination, and the courage - yes, the courage - to participate in our Academy for Conscious Change. Through our program, the women we work with will overcome tremendous odds. The majority of team members will have little to no education. Some will be subsistance farmers and/or single mothers. Others will be survivors of genocide and other trauma. Some will be HIV positive. Many will be marginalized. And none will be leaders - yet.

Over the course of 18 -24 months, through our Academy, vulnerable women learn all of the hard and soft skills they need to design, construct, and operate a non-profit water venture and social transformation programs. They learn techniques to heal from the trauma they've experienced. They develop their capacity to be mindful leaders. And they acquire non-profit management skills including how to create a baseline needs assessment and venture plan, mission and vision statements and a Theory of Change. They learn financial management, public speaking, deep listening skills, conflict resolution, and how to overcome objections. Teams put all of these skills into practice as they build a cost-effective, sustainable water access point to serve 3,000 people and lead programs that address social issues important to them such as domestic and sexual violence, women's economic empowerment, girls' education, hygiene and sanitation, and HIV/AIDS.

Since 2006, 700 marginalized women, many of whom cannot write their own name, have transformed their communities through Global Grassroots' Academy for Conscious Change, impacting more than 175,000 people. And in the coming months, we'll be adding to those numbers as we identify our next women-led water teams in Kinyaga Cell in Bumbogo Sector in Rwanda.

Will you help more women transform their lives and their communities? Become a Global Grassroots monthly donor through Global Giving. When you invest in us, you invest in them. Please give today. Thank you and best wishes for a beautiful holiday season.

Links:

Mother and daughter selling water
Mother and daughter selling water

All of us at Global Grassroots are proud to have been selected to participate in the most recent Stockholm World Water Week. Invited by Global Water Challenge to highlight our work during the session The Ripple Effect: Empowering Women Through Water, Global Grassroots Founder and President Gretchen Steidle presented our methodology of Conscious Social Change that provides women with not only the nuts-and-bolts to design, implement, and run a sustainable non-profit water enterprise, but with the inner work practices that enable them to lead ethical, compassionate social transformation in their communities. Watch the entire session using the link below titled The Ripple Effect.

Further, IPSOS, the third largest market and public opinion research firm in the world, studied Global Grassroots' model and measured the impact of our water program on women and their communities. They presented their findings during World Water Week as well and we are thrilled to have their confirmation of our effectiveness. In their new publication (which can be accessed using the link below), IPSOS provides data about the impact of local, safe, clean water access and provides quotes by a number of beneficiaries of our women-led water ventures in Rwanda, including this one: 

“Things have changed: women work not only in their homes, but now since the burden of collecting water has saved them time they are able to work outside their homes. They engage in some of the activities that used to be for men only. These activities are no longer seen as taboo for women to do. It would not be surprising to find women at a construction site, carrying and fetching building materials, or mixing and measuring construction materials. The community is no longer held up by the thought that women are incapable.” – Male Community Leader, Rwanda

Global Grassroots is grateful for the opportunity to showcase our work and our impact on the global stage last month but, more important, we are grateful to everyone who supports the work we do with vulnerable women and girls. You help make it possible. Thank you for giving!

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Strong women (and a few good men) lead Unite: Jali
Strong women (and a few good men) lead Unite: Jali

In their first full year of providing safe access to clean water to their Rwandan commuity, Team Unite: Jali has achieved some significant goals set during their venture development phase. More than 1,125 people have attended their workshops, dramas, and sensitizations that focus on family planning, sharing household tasks, women’s economic empowerment, and water hygiene. Further, 26 vulnerable women receive free water (two jerrycans/day) including one especially impoverished family, a widow with four children, two of whom are disabled. The widow was grateful for the water for her family then asked the team for the waste water– the extra water that would splash onto the ground below the taps when people were filling their jerry cans at the water point in the village. Now she captures that water, using it to water her tomato plants. She was able to sell her bounty of tomatoes, reinvesting the revenue in more plants and purchasing two goats, one of which has already produced three kids - and the widow is still farming her tomatoes. Unite: Jali’s water point has completely transformed the life of this once-destitute family. 

Other Unite achievements include:  

  • 91% of the villages they serve have easy access to their clean water. However, 2 villages are still walking up to 30 minutes to collect water from their access point.
  • There has been an 8% reduction in school dropouts.
  • 37% of men now collect water compared to 13% at the start of the venture.
  • 53% of men now share household tasks, up from 20%.
  • There has been a reduction in family conflict and domestic violence by 30%.
  • 123 women have joined saving groups.
  • After one year, 58 of 180 households are using birth control.
  • There has been a 56% increase in households treating their water.

While thrilled by what they have accomplished over the last year, Unite: Jali is also already looking toward the future. They want to expand their operations to further reduce the distance that women in the two villages, mentioned above, must travel to collect water. They also are pursuing full ownership of the land on which their water point stands (which is currently leased) and are in negotiation with the land owner and the local land officer to do so. They feel that is the best way for them to protect their investment in their equipment.

Global Grassroots is committed to helping more women-led water teams just like Unite: Jali bring clean water access and social transformation programs to their post-conflict communities through our Academy for Conscious Change. Please consider becoming a recurring donor through GlobalGiving - and accept our deepest thanks for your generosity.

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Eugenie, President of Bright Future
Eugenie, President of Bright Future

When Eugenie was pregnant, she regularly had to carry 25 liters of water long distances to provide for her family (1 liter = 2.2 lbs). That's 55 lbs of water, while pregnant

Pregnant women who carry heavy loads of water are far more likely to miscarry than women who have local water access.  Eugenie was one of the lucky ones; she carried her baby to term.

Water can be dangerous in other ways. Eugenie, who is a social health worker and mother of five in Bugarama, Rwanda,  says, "...because the groundwater is not protected [from runoff and drainage], the people who get water there are often sick. I am a Social Health Worker in this village, so I would try very hard to get people to boil water, but it is hard. Some people think that the water is safe for them to drink, since they have been drinking dirty water for a long time. Others cannot afford firewood." 

Fortunately, Eugenie doesn't have to worry about carrying water up steep hills anymore. Having graduated from Global Grassroots’ Academy for Conscious Change, Eugenie now leads Bright Future, a non-profit water venture serving more than 3,000 people in her community, many of whom are mothers like herself. In addition, since launching their operations, the team has actively promoted water hygiene and sanitation. They have witnessed a decrease in water-borne diseases thus reducing medical expenses for families and out-of-school time for children, and improving the overall health of community members. 

Your support helps mothers provide water for their families and their community without risk to themselves, their children, and their unborn babies. If you are not a monthly donor to Global Grassroots through GlobalGiving, please consider becoming one. Many thanks for your generosity!

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Organization Information

Global Grassroots

Location: Portsmouth, NH - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @consciouschange
Global Grassroots
Gretchen Steidle
Project Leader:
Gretchen Steidle
President and Founder
Portsmouth, New Hampshire United States

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