Help Vulnerable Women Become Leaders of Change

by Global Grassroots
A Friend Indeed - tailoring training
A Friend Indeed - tailoring training

Over the past three months, a number of updates from existing ventures help us see a common thread:  training as a way to advance their different missions.  Each team is demonstrating the power of their achievements through their focus on training. We have chosen to highlight their successes here:

A Friend Indeed

A Friend Indeed” continues to work on tackling a deeply set sigma faced by single mothers. In a survey taken before the project, 100% of their community members indicated the belief that single mothers are useless to society.  Here is how the team is working to combat these beliefs.

In the past three months through their training they have:

  •   helped 67 single mothers understand their rights on issues of violence and human rights.
  •   held 2-day training workshop on reproductive health and use of birth control system.
  •   reached out to 48 youth and taught them about reproductive health, specifically unwanted pregnancies.
  •   organized 249 single mothers in Byimana to manage their savings, dividing them into 9 groups.
  •   initiated sewing courses to help equip single mothers with skills so that they can be economically independent.

Kind People

"Kind People" continues to tackle the issue of women's lack of access to land and property rights, an underlying cause of domestic physical and economic violence.

They have trained:

  • 292 people (147 men and 127 women) from Kabagali sector, living in Rwesero and Munanira, Karambi, and Rwoga Cellules in gender based violence, the causes and consequence of violence, how to take care of victims of domestic abuse and violence and strategies to combat violence.  (Afterwards, team members selected 120 people who best exhibited change.  They also chose 3 people from each village who "changed their minds on violence." With additional training they are now formed in 10 clubs focused on actively helping reduce and/or manage cases of violence.)
  • 10 people (4 men and 6 women) working at the local authorities office.
  •  a group of people on a specific session "training the trainers"

Education for the Young Girls

This venture seeks to empower young women by keeping them in school.
In the past 3 months they report that they have:

  • continued reproductive health training, including activities that encourage school dropouts to return to school.
  • conducted a reproductive health and saving training workshop for 94 girls at school.
  • initiated a savings workshop to help prevent girls from dropping out of school because they can't afford the supplies or fees. (The team recognizes that many girls drop out of school because of poverty, and they believe that a saving workshop will prevent them from the option of taking up prostitution. As result of the workshop, most of the girls are working as a team to collect firewood and sell for money that goes toward school materials for themselves.)

While each ventures carries out a variety of beneficial training activities (and much more) they are also seeking out ways to become financially self-sustaining over the long-term.  Your contribution helps bring each group one step closer toward that goal.  We are so grateful to existing donors who have already supported these women.  And to new donors who might be inspired to join, thank you so much as well.

Education for Young Girls - Niyitegeka Rachel
Education for Young Girls - Niyitegeka Rachel


Defining water venture priorities
Defining water venture priorities

Global Grassroots held an Academy for Conscious Change in October 2013 that included a cohort of 33 individuals (7 teams). These indviduals came with the shared goal of returning to their communities to solve a variety of complicated water issues as well as build their skills in social venture development. Six of the teams were from areas surrounding Kigali and one team was from Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Collectively, the teams represent 113 others from their extended communities.

Each group touched on universal, shared problems involving access to potable water with varying approaches and priorities for how to tackle them. 

They all seek to:

  • eradicate waterborne diseases
  • promote community health
  • end violence and sexual exploitation women face when collecting water for their families
  • ensure children attend school (without complications from collecting water or missing classes because of poor health relating to water-borne diseases.)

At the start of the October Workshop, fifty-seven percent of the group felt mostly or very ready to work on the root causes of the their water problems.  At the end of the workshop based on post-assessment responses, ninety percent of the group surveyed felt mostly or very ready to create social change.  This was promising feedback and points to how they perceived the effectiveness of the training.

During the Workshop, trainees had a chance to visit a successful, existing water venture.  It was a powerful experience as they got to see first hand what is possible to accomplish with some perseverance and trust in their process.  With a first grade education, a past trainee from a previous workshop showed these teams how she and her community team had set up a water tank and started delivering potable water to homes in their community.  She also then discussed how she was able to turn the profits from the water tank back into the community’s sustained well-being through the purchase of livestock.   

Thanks to you, and other Global Grassroots supporters, these water ventures are now further shaping the activities that they seek to initiate in 2014.  We look forward to updating you on their progress.

"Have a Good Life" Change Agents
"Have a Good Life" Change Agents

On behalf of all of us at Global Grassroots, we thank you for your continued support of the work of our grassroots change agents.  Following are some snapshots of progress from a few select ventures. 

Since July, Global Grassroots venture, “Have a Good Life,” (with the mission of creating access to clean water as a way to help prevent violence against women), has continued to make excellent strides in helping people in their village.  This team of Global Grassroots graduates, who after achieving their initial priority of gaining access to water, have turned their focus to training people in the village about domestic violence.  While working on this objective they learned how little people understood the importance of good hygiene in relation to waterborne diseases and their own health. Now they are training village members about the importance of clean water and how washing carefully plays a critical role in their health. Sixty bars of soap were just distributed in the last training to press home the importance of good hygiene.

Another Global Grassroots venture, “A Friend Indeed” is continuing to work on creative ways to tackle a deeply set sigma that single mothers face. In a survey taken before the project, 100% of their community members indicated the belief that single mothers are useless to society.  This finding led to a training campaign of over 100 women that focused on the rights each woman has when faced with discrimination.  This training, which took place in June 2013, was considered so successful that the group now plans a next training on reproductive health for the winter of 2013 to help prevent unwanted pregnancies.  The biggest news from this group is that twenty women have launched a special initiative to raise money for the training sessions.  Just a few weeks ago in early September, they developed a plan for setting up a tailoring class to teach others how to sew. With a fee associated with the training, the plan is for the women who can afford the fee to help raise money for those who are unable.  The fee covers the cost of renting a space, the teacher’s time, and the supplies such as fabric, thread and needles.

News from a third venture, "Education for Young Girls", whose mission is to keep girls from missing school during menstruation, because of harassment and high drop out rates from school, demonstrates continued progress. Over the past few months, the venture has:

  • facilitated HIV testing for 255 students.
  • followed-up with parents of each student to engage them in actively supporting their children’s needs. 
  • led the building of a girls “chamber,” a private room where girls can wash their clothes during menstruation if needed, or use as a place to rest if they have cramps so that they do not have to return home.  
  • launched a fundraising campaign based on a local football match with donations targeted to cover the costs of  a doctor who will provide training on reproductive health.

These ventures are close to becoming financially self-sustained by their communities.  With your generous support each of these ventures will be that much closer to reaching its long-term goal.

Global Grassroots will be initiating its next Academy for Conscious Change on October 7 in Kigali with a cohort of teams specifically focused on water issues.  We look forward to updating you on our progress as we round out this calendar year. Thank you for your continued support, which enables grassroots women change agents across Rwanda to advance ther own ideas benefiting women and girls in their communities. 


Attending Training with A Friend Indeed
Attending Training with A Friend Indeed

In the last few months, 3 teams of graduates from the most recent Academy for Conscious Change in Rwanda began official, autonomous operations. It is remarkable to watch previously marginalized women grow into respected community leaders and conscious change agents. We are thrilled to share with you some of what they have accomplished, feats possible because of your financial support.

One of the ventures, A Friend Indeed, is working on the problem of violence and stigma against single mothers. The baseline study conducted by the team reveals some troubling information, including the fact that among single mothers surveyed, 91 percent of the pregnancies were undesired, and 49 percent of respondents report having no knowledge of reproductive health. Still more troubling, 92 percent of these single mothers experienced violence during their pregnancy and 100% of community members surveyed said that a single mother was useless to society 

In June, the team hosted their first training with 140 single mothers on human rights to help them have more knowledge and confidence in standing up for their rights.  They bestowed 67 certificates of completion to single mothers and other community members who completed the full program. Additionally, seven of the mothers who were outstanding in their attendance, participation, and practice of new skills were also awarded chickens in a special ceremony.

Their next endeavor will be to conduct a training program in reproductive health with young people in the community to begin to improve education so as to prevent further unwanted pregnancies.

A second team, Kind People, working in the Ruhango District of Rwanda's Southern Province received a grant from Global Grassroots to buy their motorbike. This venture is designed to protect women's property rights an issue that is often a trigger for domestic violence. The motorbike represents the kind of innovating thinking, problem solving, and sustainable venture design that is taught at the Academy for Conscious Change. Not only will the motorbike allow team members to reach the hundreds of women and 22 anti-violence clubs they have started in remote villages it will also act as a revenue-generating taxi to support the teams ongoing operation costs.

We wish to thank you again for your generous donations and hope that you will consider continuing to support these remarkable women and others like them as they create a better world. 

Outstanding Graduates are Awarded Chickens
Outstanding Graduates are Awarded Chickens
Kind People
Kind People's New Motorbike
Kind People Team Member
Kind People Team Member
Powerful Female Change Agents in Rwanda
Powerful Female Change Agents in Rwanda

We’re busy moving forward with our high-engagement incubator, helping women at the grassroots level develop and sustain their own micro-NGOs.

Here’s a snapshot about some of the exciting new developments happening on the ground in Rwanda:

  • Let Us Build Ourselves, a women’s literacy venture, has developed a sister program tutoring street children and training them in traditional Rwandan dance.  Their dance program performs at local weddings and other events to support the cost of the literacy program. The dance team has become so skilled that they recently won a district-wide award. At the celebration for this award, 118 people also received free HIV tests.
  • Education for Young Girls, which initially tackled the problem of ensuring girls stay in school by building safe latrines and showers for them to use during their menstrual cycles, are now utilizing the skills they learned through our Academy for Conscious Change to design new approaches to tackling teenage prostitution.
  • Some of our water ventures, including Hard Workers and Have a Good Life are experiencing new difficulty because of climate change. The rains in Rwanda have been unusually scarce this year and water sources are drying up. Hard Workers’ rain collection cisterns have too frequently run dry, and the city has turned off the supply to Have a Good Life for days at a time. These teams are in the process of problem solving and trying to raise money for additional cisterns so that women don’t have to go back to dirty streams during dry spells.
  • In Rwinkwavu, in Eastern Rwanda, our 70- vulnerable high school girls who took part in the Girls Academy training last November are exceeding our greatest expectations with their passion, commitment and fearlessness. Although their projects were initially intended to take place as a one-time events during their holiday school break, the girls are motivated to develop long-term programs creating change in their communities as well as opportunities for themselves to grow as leaders.  You can read more about them on their own Global Giving page here


We anticipate initiating our next Academy for Conscious Change with a cohort of venture teams focused on water issues in October.  Stay tuned for more. 



This past January, Global Grassroots launched its first geographical expansion from Rwanda into Northen Uganda to target women survivors of the reign of terror of the Lord’s Resistance Army.  Our first cohort of 40 change agents representing eight venture teams are now in the process of their venture development work.  Our newest staff from Uganda, Colombus Onoo and Celine Auma, traveled this month to Kigali to train with our Rwanda office, led by Senior Program Officer, Gyslaine Uwitonze and Program Assistant, Josiane Isingizwe. Their training included exposure to our existing venture teams and the delicate methodology we use to guide venture development and inspire self-sufficiency without imposing our own ideas.  We look forward to the opportunity for our venture teams in Uganda having the opportunity to exchange with our Rwandan organizations too.   



We remain deeply grateful for your support, as our ability to continue to support the growth and impact of these teams would not be possible without you. We are excited about our expansion into Uganda, our adaptation of our work for a younger audience of vulnerable girls and our upcoming Academy for Conscious Change focused on water issues.  We hope you will continue to contribute to our work, so that we may help vulnerable women become leading change agents.


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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
$46,979 raised of $123,000 goal
977 donations
$76,021 to go
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