Help Vulnerable Women Become Leaders of Change

by Global Grassroots
Marie-Claire is all smiles now!
Marie-Claire is all smiles now!

Team Unite launched their venture in 2013 in a village outside of Kigali, Rwanda. Their work consists of three parts: teaching community members skills that can create income, providing opportunities for people (particularly women) to come together in groups to discuss their lives, and educating their community about women's rights.

First the team purchased sewing and knitting machines and taught groups of women - and men - how to use them. They taught jewelry- and basket-making, too, so community members now have a variety of ways to earn income. Everyone who produces goods gives 10% of the sale back to the venture, keeping 90% for themselves; what is returned to the team is re-invested in the venture.

Men and women work in separate groups. Unite members will then talk to the group about women's rights, domestic violence, the importance of education, etc. while their captive audience works on producing their crafts. In these groups, men and women are also more likely to engage in open conversations about their lives and it is often through these conversations that the team learns of a marriage in trouble or a woman being abused by her husband. The team can then intervene.

Marie-Claire has been married for five years and has two small sons. Despite her husband's salary, her own salary as a primary school teacher, and the income from food they grow to sell, Marie-Claire said they never had any money. Her husband would take it all and spend it on alcohol and other women. As a result, the couple was always in conflict and she was ready to leave with the children who were frequently distressed. As a last resort, Marie-Claire confided in one of Unite's leaders. A small contingent of team members then made weekly visits to Marie-Claire's home to help the couple resolve their issues. Over time, Marie-Claire's husband grew to understand the impact his behavior was having on his wife and children and he knew that it was up to him to change.

Marie-Claire says that now they are 'doing well' and her children no longer experience turmoil at home. Her husband brings his salary home each week and together they decide how they will use their income. He is also spending more time with their children. Marie-Claire smiled and said, "I am very happy."

So far, Unite's work has reached 420 people, including 71 men and 32 youth, and local leaders now refer troubled couples to the team for help.

Your support of Global Grassroots' Academy for Conscious Change makes it possible for teams such as Unite to implement their own sustainable solutions to social issues impacting people in their community, especially women and girls. Thank you!

A young man trained to sew by Unite
A young man trained to sew by Unite
Women trained by Team Unite
Women trained by Team Unite


Christine: no longer a victim of domestic violence
Christine: no longer a victim of domestic violence

Your support helps chang ethe lives of vulnerable women in Uganda. Through Global Grassroots' Academy for Conscious Change, teams of women get the training, skills, resources, and support they need to start their own social change programs in their villages - programs that work to end illiteracy, poverty, HIV, and child malnutrition.

Your gifts also support the domestic violence program that has changed Christine's life:

Christine is a subsistence farmer in Gulu, northern Uganda. She has five children and no education – and a husband who beat her frequently, especially when he came home at night drunk. To buy alcohol, he would sell – without Christine’s knowledge – food they had grown and harvested together.

“If I asked about the money from the sales, violence would erupt. It’s like I was farming to buy my own punishment,” Christine explained.

Enter Aketo Koma.

A Global Grassroots women-led venture in Uganda, the Aketo Koma team consists of women in Christine’s village. After completing our Academy for Conscious Change, the team launched their domestic violence program. They held workshops on domestic violence and women's rights that Christine attended; she would share with her husband everything she was learning in the classes.

According to Christine, things with her husband slowly began to improve; the more she learned about her rights and talked about them at home, the less frequently he beat her:

“Nowadays if there is any problem, or if there is need to sell an item, we decide together, and his excessive alcoholism has also stopped. I am now happily living in a violence-free home where we plan and decide together and deal with our problems in a rightful manner.”

Aketo Koma continues to offer training to many of the women in the community and Christine has seen a shift in her own neighborhood.

“As this group continues to sensitize many families, I have seen great calm.”

 Thank you for supporting the work of vulnerable women - and for making life safer and more peaceful for women such as Christine!

Girls often miss school retrieving water
Girls often miss school retrieving water

Hello! All of us at Global Grassroots hope that you have been enjoying this holiday season. And, as always, we want to thank you for your support of our Women’s Academy for Conscious Change.

Since our last report, so much has happened! Since then, we have received and approved completed water venture proposals from nearly all of the twelve teams who completed our formal training in July. Currently, the teams are waiting for estimated costs from WASAC, the municipal water company. WASAC officials have completed site visits to all of the individual team locations to assess the cost of each venture and they will provide the estimated budgets to our Rwanda office in the coming weeks. In the meantime, each team is completing their issues studies, processing their sector registrations, and opening bank accounts through which they not only will receive their start-up funds and subsequent tranches from Global Grassroots, they will be able to pay contractors and others when construction begins. Our local staff visits teams weekly during the venture development process.

One team, named Vision, is focusing on unemployment and lack of skills as they relate to water. The team is from a village called Nkusi, about an hour and half’s drive from Kigali by way of a long, winding road to the top of a mountain. A couple of the team’s leaders are men and they believe that their mission is to convince other men in the community how critical the social issues facing women are. The team, as a whole, is very ambitious and organized and we are delighted by their commitment and their efforts.

The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation has provided Global Grassroots with partial funding for this ambitious undertaking; we need to raise the rest. When completed, the cost per ultimate beneficiary receiving clean water and other gender-based violence services will equate to less than $6 once all teams are operating - and 30,000 people will have access to clean water right in the heart of their villages. That's all: just $6 per person for permanent, sustainable access to clean water.

As we start off a new year filled with hope and possibilities, will you help us make clean, safe water not just a possibility but a reality for thousands of people – mostly women and children? Thank you so much for your support!

From all of us at Global Grassroots, we wish you a very happy and healthy 2016!

Leading our 2015 Training
Leading our 2015 Training

Thank you so much for generously supporting Global Grassroots’ Academy for Conscious Change. We are excited to have convened our current cohort of 12 teams of women (and their supportive male colleagues). These teams all are focusing on bringing clean, safe water to their villages by mid-2016 through our exciting partnership with The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation’s Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN). RAIN is helping support these twelve water ventures as part of a 3:1 matching grant so we really need your help as an individual donor to ensure that our teams are able to achieve their goals! 

Our teams began their 12-month leadership training and social venture incubator through our Academy in July. They will work to provide water access to their respective communities, a total of approximately 30,000 people, while simultaneously addressing social issues facing women and girls, such as sexual exploitation associated with water collection or water-borne illnesses. Just as in all of our other Academies, participants learned mindfulness, entrepreneurial skills, accounting and financial accountability, and nonprofit management. Currently teams are completing their business proposals which will include mission and vision statements, a team roster, and a list of stakeholders. 

Ten of the 12 women-led teams will be working with WASAC, the Rwandan municipal water authority, to extend the main water pipeline into their communities. The two remaining teams, both without access to a WASAC pipeline, will each install a pipeline system to run water from local springs directly into their respective villages. The median cost globally for water infrastructure to bring clean water to one person is $250. Global Grassroots’ high-engagement model teaches women how to provide water to their communities, sustainably and permanently, while also improving other dimensions of the lives of local women and girls, for just $6.50 per person. We stand proudly behind our data and believe that our approach of working with grassroots women change leaders may be one of the most efficient water programs globally. Add to that the many significant ripples of impact, particularly for women and girls, and we know our program is special.

Global Grassroots staff has already begun to provide high-engagement support to teams in the field, helping them to fully develop their proposals. Once completed proposals have been approved, teams will collect data for their baseline issue studies, get materials estimates, and develop project budgets. Going operational is close to a year away for all teams but there is a lot to do in the meantime. We look forward to reporting on their progress over the coming months.

This year, your gift – at any level – will help us 'meet our match' from RAIN and will support our teams in bringing safe, clean water to thousands of people. Sustainably. Permanently. Amazing. Thank you so much!

Training exercise during July Academy
Training exercise during July Academy
A few water team leaders at Academy graduation
A few water team leaders at Academy graduation
The community now has safe local access to water
The community now has safe local access to water

We are excited about the progress our four women-led water ventures in Rwanda have made! First, Trust Each Other installed a 5,000L water tank and their new extension from the municipal pipeline is bringing water to it. Five villages, approximately 1,500 people, are now benefiting - with expanded service to five more villages soon. The team will be using profits from water sales to address gender-based violence and provide school fees for vulnerable children. 

Hold Each Otherhas encountered a delay laying their pipeline, most notably needing to increase the diameter of the pipe to their site because they are more than 300 meters from the water main. The new pipe is still being installed but should be completed in the next 3-4 weeks; the team will then be providing water to more than 1,800 people. 

Hard Workers’ has installed a second large water tank in their village in the southeast section of Kigali. The new tank serves an additional 600 households, approximately 3,500 residents. Twenty households, representing the disabled and/or most vulnerable, receive water for free. To achieve their goal of reducing water-borne illness by 98%, the team is visiting every households to teach the importance of treating water and of proper hygiene. 

Unite is bringing clean water to 300 households (1,600 people). Profits from water sales are already being used towards expanding to serve an additional four villages (5,400 people), teach residents how to purify water, and support the team’s Gender Equality Program. The team teaches local couples the importance of gender equality, including the need to share household responsibilities between the wife and the husband. 

Your gift of just $10 will support more grassroots, women-led teams like these solve – permanently and sustainably– the issue of water and bring about conscious social change in Rwanda. Please support Global Grassroots today. Thank you!

Women walk long distances to unsafe water sources
Women walk long distances to unsafe water sources
Learning in our Academy for Conscious Change
Learning in our Academy for Conscious Change

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Organization Information

Global Grassroots

Location: Portsmouth, NH - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Gretchen Wallace
President and Founder
Portsmouth, New Hampshire United States
$46,904 raised of $123,000 goal
974 donations
$76,096 to go
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