Working with local leaders, the Relax team identified 34 couples living with or at-risk for domestic violence and gathered them to conduct a training seminar. Their research has shown that arguments about property and inheritance are often a trigger for domestic violence. Although Rwanda passed the Inheritance and Martial Property Law in 1999, guaranteeing equal rights for female and male spouses and children to inherit property, not everyone knows this law exists. The Relax team is helping ensure these couples know their rights under the law and what to do if those rights are being violated.
To reach broader audiences, they have also trained “focal points” who are responsible for speaking with people in their communities and reporting back to Relax. One focal point, Agnes Uwimana explained the impact Relax is having, saying that “women in the community used to keep silent, but after introducing this project to the community, people come to us if they have a problem and we show them how to address the issues they are facing.”
Relax also recently received a small grant to purchase two more cell phones that they can use to report domestic violence to the authorities. When not used to fight domestic violence, they are also able to use these phones as part of a fundraising strategy by charging a small fee to community members who wish to make a call.
GLOBAL GRASSROOTS UPDATE:
GIRLS ACADEMY FOR CONSCIOUS CHANGE
In Rwinkwavu, 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. For examples, one of the six teams, called Brave People, works on the issue of homeless youth. They have succeeded in reintegrating seven children back into their families as well as helping three children find families to adopt them.
To read more about these inspiring young women, you can take a look at their page on Global Giving
NORTHERN UGANDA EXPANSION
We believe that engaging women and girls in post-conflict reconstruction is crucial to changing the attitudes that created conflict in the first place. To that end, we’re happy to announce that in January, we initiated our first Academy for Conscious Change via a nine-day residential training program that was held in Gulu, Northern Uganda. We accepted eight venture teams represented by 40 change agents into our first cohort. Our participants are predominately vulnerable women affected by the reign of terror of the Lord's Resistance Army in their region. Working diligently, the teams have begun the design of their social ventures working on the following issues: HIV, Divorce, Household Conflict & Overwork, Women's Human Rights, Gender-based Violence, Illiteracy, Advancing Women in Leadership, and `Property Rights. They now are engaged in Phase 2 of our 18-month program to complete the development of their ventures. By building the capacity of women to heal from trauma and advance their own ideas, we hope to support empowerment, healing, and reconciliation. We look forward to learning from their insight and wisdom and helping them create conscious social change in their communities.