Training Skills for Widows and Orphans in Rwanda

by Global Grassroots

Achieving a Better Life has temporarily put on hold its training program for women and orphans, as its director, Charlotte Nyiraneza, has been asked to take on increasing responsibility and leadership roles for her other fulltime job.  As is often the case with Global Grassroots' change agents, our venture founders demonstrate substantial leadership capacity and are often promoted within other organizations, run for office or apply our skills to solve other problems in their community.  At this time, this program will be discontinued until the organization has the opportunity to dedicate more time to its participants.  We extend our deepest gratitude for your support of Achieving a Better Life and its program for women and orphans.  

Achieving a Better Life was one of the first ventures trained by Global Grassroots through our Academy for Conscious Change in 2008.  Their core program uses community theater to raise awareness about domestic violence.  They have made remarkable impact in the four years they have been operating.  Since 2009, this team has performed roughly every month in five communities within Kigali on the topics of domestic violence, violence against domestic workers, adultery and bearing children out of wedlock. Their performances have been attended by ever growing crowds - over 1,200 at each of the first three performances of 2013. The reaction of the audience during the hosted discussions afterwards is very positive. Many women have reported that following the performance, they have gone to seek help for domestic violence and have talked to their husbands about how to improve their relationships. Many men also attend the performances, and have stated that they have started to think more seriously about how they treat their wives. Since beginning the performances, domestic violence rates in these communities has been reduced by 60%. The team has also produced two full-length films on the topic of domestic violence and marital relations.

The group was awarded a tender by the American NGO, Intrahealth, to perform a theatre on domestic violence for the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence, an event attended by the director of USAID, the US Ambassador, and the Minister of Gender. In February 2009, they performed the very first V-Day Vagina Monologues in Rwanda, adapted to a Rwandan context with monologues of Rwandan women, tackling tough and taboo topics not often discussed publicly. On International Women's Day in March 2009, the team was invited by the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion to perform one of their plays, which was broadcast nationwide three times, reaching at least 25,000 people. Project leader Charlotte Nyiraneza won the World Pulse Second Annual Bold Ideas Contest in January and was even nominated for a CNN Hero Award. Achieving a Better Life continues to perform new plays and hopes to make another film about the oppression of Rwandan women.

Thank you for your continued support.  To help other amazing women survivors of war like Charlotte advance social change, please consider supporting Global Grassroots' Academy for Conscious Change program by clicking here: 

Dear Sir/Madam,

Our project progress is very amazing, Orphans and widows are attending our program regularly, and many people are interested in learning our training skills about growing and preparing mushrooms, as well as making bracelets and necklaces out of natural resources and/or papers.

We can't say about our progress without sharing some testimonials from our beneficiaries about the impact of this project in their lives. Mukamana Marie Louise is a 38 woman, who droped out of school when she was in senior 3 due to poverty. After school, life was so difficult for her and a rich man was suggested for her for marriage. She accepted as the second illegal wife of that man (as in Rwanda polygamy is not allowed). She said, "After giving birth to my third child, my husband was no longer kind to me. He could feed us, and he used to beat me almost every night. I was too young to endure that pain, and I had no one else to support me. As a result, I decided to leave him, having no parent to go to I became a prostitute." Mukamana heard about our project from one of our team's member. After realizing the motivation she showed to leave that life of prostitution, our team decided to recruit her. She is now among the women we are serving. "One thing I really value about this project is the teaching skills of growing mushrooms. My children are now healthy, they quickly recovered from the malnutrition sickness Kwashiorkor. I have started leaving this bad profession of prostitution as I went there to be able to feed my children. Now, in addition to knowing how to grow and prepare mushrooms, I have increased my self confidence. I feel ready to start my small business that can bring me a monthly income. All my three children will certainly attend school, and reach where I was not able to reach. "

Mukamana like many other 25 widows and orphans with such unique and inspirational testimonials that keep motivating our team to continue and expand our activities. Our team could not still exist without people like you who give whatever they can to make it grow.

We thank you very much in advance for your partnership!

Yours faithfully,

Joyce who gave us her testimonial
Joyce who gave us her testimonial

Dear sir/ Madam,

Gratefully we thank you for your donation, because we were able to support our all beneficiaries that were mostly affected by poverty and malnutrition in their household. Today we can start enjoying the impact of our project.

Happily we inform you that during these last three months we have served 25 orphans and 25 widows. The service we gave them was to we gave them trainings about having a nutritious meal and starting an income generating activity. In addition to that we taught them how to grow mushrooms and learn a skill of making jewelries such as necklaces out of papers.


Joyce Uwamariya one of our widows said” God bless this project and whoever support it, because I could not imagine my life without it. My child was almost dying, and these people of God gave me mushrooms and now the child is healthy. In addition to that, they taught me how to grow them. I can sell some, and eat the rest. I am getting the beauty of life, because of what I learnt from here. Thank you Charlotte, your project helped me when I was about to give up to life.”

The following are the challenges that we have:

  • We receive a lot of request from widows and orphans girls from our community who want and really need our service. We want to recruit other women, but financially we can’t now.
  • Getting all training materials is still a challenge for our venture
  • Paying regularly the trainer is also a big challenge to our venture’s progress

Although we encounter challenges, we still set goals, strive to achieve them, and have plans.

We plan to:

  • Recruit another session of 25 widows and 25 orphans to benefit from our programs
  • Conduct community sensitization about having a nutritious meal as it has become a big issue in our community
  • Teaching people about women’s rights, and business skills on the public meeting or on (umuganda) community service days.
  • Teaching our beneficiaries waving using Rwandan grasses that were used long ago in the past.

What do you think about our project? Can we give up on widow who are about to commit suicide, just because her children are dying of hunger in her eyes? Do we have to let young girls stop dreaming of a bright future, because they got undesired pregnancies and have no one else to care about them? Don’t you think teaching skills to the poor can lift her from her poverty?

Thank you again for your support to our program!

Charlotte at home of one beneficiary
Charlotte at home of one beneficiary
Mushrooms of our team
Mushrooms of our team

Dear Donor,

Happy new year 2013!

We thank you for your continous support.

Since our previous report our team has been training the 25 widows and 25 orphan about having self esteem and the importance of working in teams for the betterment of a the family.  We also thought them growing mushrooms as a income generating project. Growing mushroom does not require a big space of land, yet it produces income to farmers. We are so excited to share with you the pictures showing how some of our mushrooms have well grown up.

Our team is making an amazing impact in the lives of the women in our community. Mutumwinka Thacienne one of our beneficiary gave us a testimonial saying that:" I am 22, and I stopped my secondary school when I was in third year. At that time, my two parents and one big sister had and a car accident and died. That sister was the one who paid for my school fees, as I had no one else to pay it for me I stopped my studies. Since then, my life become so difficult. Although I was smart at school, I was fired as I was not able to pay for my school fees. I used to spend days withought eating, and at night I slept in churches as I had no shelter. Later on, the church guard forbidden me to do so saying that it was not allowed. Then, I started sleeping in bathrooms of some people.  As a consequence I was raped and become pregnant. My child was almost dying of cold due to spleeping here and there. I was desesperate and hopeless. Finally, I joined this team. I am learning how to plan for my child's future through the training I receive. I am determined to start selling mushrooms that I grew to famous local restaurents. I am so grateful to people who had this idea of supporting us. Everyone can help for sure. "

Our beneficiaries were impressed to see us their neigbors with little income, helping them! They even were surprised to see how they are able to help each other to overcome their own problems by using encouraging conversations and actions.  We are serving fifty (50) beneficiaries. we visit them and follow up on how they apply the skills they got from our training. For those having children with malnutrition diseases we help them with sensitizing them to grow vegetables and we give them mushrooms. The women had an opportunity to share together their challenges and encourage one another in order to successfully overcome them.

We plan to train these people, so that after the six months we can serve another group of widows and orphans with similar problems.

Don't you agree with Thacienne that everyone can help?

Our joined effort can make an impressive impact in the lives of the people in dangers to lose hope.


Once again thank you for your support!

Mushrooms in the field
Mushrooms in the field
The first group in our program
The first group in our program

Dear Sir/Madam, Training skill for widows and orphans is a project that aims at solving trauma related issues faced by widows and orphans, so that they can live a good life. This project also works on fighting its consequences that include prostitution. Once these issues are reduced in our community, we expect that people will regain their self esteem and work to satisfy their needs as our main goal is to help them leave the habit of begging and living a hopeless life, and build in them the spirit of working hard to develop them. Our action plan is to continue teaching 25 widows and 25 orphans every 6 months. To date, we are teaching the first group as we plan to train a hundred people per year. Our activities are going to benefit widows and orphans who have not got an opportunity on other support while they were in need. We also selected children who have not had someone to pay for their school fees who were in loneliness. Iradukunda Consolee is one of our the children who were in sorrow as she did not have any someone to pay for her school fees while she was determined that education would help her to live well. She became hopeless because she worried how she would live. She recovered her happiness after being enrolled in our program. Challenges that we face are that we don't have enough materials, so that a student from our program would have necessary skills. In addition to that, it takes long for someone who has been consuming drugs such as hemp to come back from a normal life and work forward her development. On the other side, a widow who is attacked by trauma it takes time for her to adapt living a normal life. Some thinks that it is too late for them to learn something. In our activities we include counseling session so that we can help them to have personal transformation and change their mind. For the benefit of our beneficiaries, we are looking forward to developing our partnership especially with organization that works on similar issues especially those who have more experience than us. We will continue to assist widows and orphans in all means. Thank you!


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Organization Information

Global Grassroots

Location: Portsmouth, NH - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Gretchen Wallace
President and Founder
Kigali, Nyarugenge Rwanda

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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

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