"...a young woman can have a say on the transformation of [her] community."

— Bazira Judith

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2015 Young Women's Ventures in Rwanda and Uganda


Global Grassroots' Young Women's Academy for Conscious Change welcomed 21 secondary school graduates to our 2015 program: 12 in Uganda and 8 in Rwanda. Together these new change agents and their individual social ventures impacted more than 3,200 people in their communities in just eight months. All 21 of our program graduates are currently attending university.

Rwanda

IRENE MUGENI

Issue: Street Children

Venture: Irene worked with 20 street children in her community and their parents in an effort to get the children to voluntarily return home. She reminded the parents of their responsibility to their children, including ensuring they attend school. Irene also formed anti-street-life clubs where street kids got together with children still living at home and attending school. Each group shared their experiences which further helped the street children in their decision to return home.

Success Story: Five children did return home. Irene convinced the parents of all of the schoolchildren to help provide materials the former street children would need for school.


ANITHA DUSHIMIRIMANA

Issue: Idleness of Young Women

Venture: Anitha worked with 12 young women between 17 and 23 years old, providing them with information about the consequences of being unemployed and having no direction. She helped them form a cooperative where they learned how to create their own micro-enterprises and, as a group, can help raise themselves out of poverty by making small loans to one another for business purposes.

Success Story: Anitha advocated with administrators for five girls who had dropped out, helping them return to school.


DATIVE NIYONKURU

Issue: Unwanted Pregnancy

Venture: Dative worked with 10 young girls and 23 unmarried mothers. She taught family planning and proper use of birth control to avoid unplanned pregnancies and Dative helped the mothers increase their ability to get a job or create small projects to better provide for their children.

Success Story: In partnership with the local health center, Dative helped one mentally disabled mother learn to use birth control to prevent having additional children she is unable to care for.


DELPHINE UMURERWA

Issue: Unemployment Among Educated Young Women

Venture: Delphine worked with 10 young women who had graduated from secondary school and/or university yet were unable to find work. She taught them basic entrepreneurial skills and helped them identify available resources and ways to create income. Delphine invited two successful business women to speak to and inspire the group.

Success Story: One woman has already opened a small clothing business and six others are working on establishing their own small businesses.


DONATHA KWIZERA

Issue: Child Malnutrition

Venture: Donatha worked to reduce malnutrition in children ages 2-10 by teaching mothers about balanced diets and meal preparation skills. She also helped them plant and care for vegetable and fruit gardens. Because the 20 women live in poverty, Donatha also taught job creation skills and provided information about types of birth control and how to use it.

Success Story: Donatha was able to reach more than just the 20 women in her class by asking them to share their new skills with their neighbors - which they happily did.


HOPE FLORENCE MIZERO

Issue: Domestic Violence

Venture: Hope Florence worked with 25 women and 25 girls, all school drop-outs, ranging in age from 14 to 35 who have been affected by gender-based domestic violence. She taught them how to start and manage small income-generating projects to help reduce their economic dependency on men and raise themselves out of poverty. Hope Florence also advocated for their parents to help get their daughters back into school.

Success Story: Hope Florence engaged law experts and local leaders to teach 50 couples about human rights and gender equality/balance which had a significant impact on participants.


YVONE NIYONKURU

Issue: Unwanted Pregnancy

Venture: Yvonne's mission was to prevent unwanted pregnancy in 20 girls and young women between 14 and 25 living in poverty. She provided the group opportunities to learn from successful women about the importance of staying in school and avoiding becoming pregnant. Yvonne taught them about body maturation and reproductive health.

Success Story: Yvonne and a friend established a cooperative to help more young women in their village, providing long-term training assistance in addition to reproductive health education.


VALENTINE NISHIMWE NIYIBIZI

Issue: Women Living in Poverty

Venture: Valentine taught 11 women how to start very small and scale-up a business. With their new skills, knowledge, and confidence, many of the women have become what Valentine was to them: a mentor. They help others in similar situations, continuing as a small club, now that Valentine is in university.

Success Story: Patricia, a young mother in Valentine's class, started her business with 2,000 RWF ($2.50) that she got from friends. She bought clothes for 300 RWF (43 cents) each and sold them for 500 RWF (71 cents). The next time she bought clothes, she had 3,000 RWF to invest. By the end of Valentine's training, Patricia had 6,000 RWF ($8.57) in savings and could manage household purchases such as sugar.


Uganda

DOREEN NAKAFEERO

Issue: Alcohol Consumption by Youth

Venture: To reduce drinking among children and youth in her community, Doreen helped students, ages 12-18, understand the causes and consequences of alcohol consumption. To reduce the amount of idle time the students had, during which they would drink, she initiated a drama club and got some of them involved in sports, including football (soccer) and volleyball.

Success Story: The students performed a skit about alcoholism then led the audience, which included parents, in a question-and-answer session about alcoholism.


MONICA KISEMBO

Issue: Early Marriage

Venture: Monica worked with a total of 150 girls, ages of 12-18, to reduce the rate of early marriage. Discussions included girls who marry while still in school and parents forcing girls to marry before they are 18 for the dowry. Monica engaged several young women who had married early to share their experiences.

Success Story: Monica taught the girls that their brain is the most important part of who they are. As the girls began to embrace that idea, there was a noticeable improvement in their performance across all classes and their desire to remain in school.


VICTORIA NAKAFEERO

Issue: Teen Drop-outs as a Result of Pregnancy

Venture: In Vicky's community, pregnancy is a major reason for girls to drop out of school so Vicky taught 7th grade students about the risks of engaging in sex at a young age. She talked to them in an open and straightforward manner and provided them with information no one else, including their parents, was.

Success Story: Vicky started a "Straight Talk" club to give students a forum through which they could get additional information and share their own concerns about peer pressure and sex.


CHRISTINE ALINAITWE

Issue: School Drop-outs

Venture: Christine worked with 1st through 7th grade students in three schools. Many children do not attend school because they lack school supplies and other materials, so Christine taught them to be resourceful - and she taught the parents to be resourceful as well and to support their children going to school. Other students miss school to sell mangos to help with household expenses so Christine stressed the importance of attending school and that, in the long term, it would pay off much more than selling fruit will in the short term.

Success Story: One girl, Joanne, had dropped out to live with her boyfriend. She wanted to return to school but her parents would not allow her to come home and she did not think she could manage it otherwise. Christine helped her find ways to earn money and Joanne returned to school in January 2016.


SHEILLAH MIREMBE

Issue: Early Pregnancy

Venture: Sheillah aimed to reduce the rate of early pregnancy. Using textbooks recommended by her uncle, the President of the local Parents' Association, Sheillah taught the students, all 4th and 5th graders, about sex. While most of these students were young and not yet sexually active, Sheillah knew it was important to reach out to them early.

Success Story: Sheillah was thrilled when, eventually, all of the students began to open up about their concerns and the challenges they already face.


LAGU REBECCA MANDERA

Issue: School Drop-outs

Venture: In order to reduce the number of girls, ages 11-20, from dropping out of school, Lagu helped revive the drama club in a school where she lives in Nimule, South Sudan. She involved the entire school, decreasing the amount of idle time the students have. Lagu also noticed that, through acting, some of the shy girls were becoming more confident and speaking for themselves. Lagu covered a range of topics that are known to derail a girl's education. She taught them about sex, about the importance of completing their education, and about setting career goals and working toward them.

Success Story: When the students learned about Lagu's plans to attend university, they began seeing her as a real mentor, becoming more interested in becoming educated leaders themselves.


REBECCA MBABAZI

Issue: Girls' Education

Venture: Rebecca formed a debate club for students in 5th, 6th, and 7th grades. Through formal debate the students taught - and convinced - one another about the importance of staying in school. Through deliberate discussion, they all realized the benefits of an education for both boys and girls and how detrimental early marriage can be.

Success Story: Through sensitizations, Rebecca was able to help parents also understand the importance of keeping their children, boys and girls alike, in school.


JUDITH BAZIRA

Issue: Domestic Violence

Venture: Judith wanted to reduce the high rate of school drop-outs among both boys and girls in her community. She worked with 99 6th grade students plus 20 women and 18 girls who had dropped out of school. She helped families understand the importance of getting and keeping their children in school. Because they believed that Judith was 'speaking from her heart,' they valued what she told them. The students liked and respected her because she was open and honest and very encouraging. Even the local police supported her efforts to get young people back in school.

Success Story: By the end of her program, 18 of the drop-outs Judith had been working with were attending adult education classes.


PHIONAH MUGWANEZA

Issue: Domestic Violence

Venture: Phionah learned that when a girl gets pregnant, she gets "counseled" and must leave school, often for good, but the boy involved usually continues with his education. While Judith originally intended to work with just girls, ages 12 to 18, to eliminate early pregnancy, it became clear that she needed to include boys as well. Phionah engaged a local female police officer to speak to the children about sex. Phionah also taught them how to create personal mission and vision statements and to establish education, career, and life goals to work towards. When a local secondary school teacher heard what Phionah was doing at the primary school, she invited Phionah to share her teachings with the high school students.

Success Story: In 2014, ten girls in Phionah's village dropped out of primary school; after Phionah's program, only one has.


DINAH ASIRIAT

Issue: Girl Drop-Outs

Venture: Dinah met with students from two primary and one secondary school to reduce the number of school drop-outs among young girls. She lead exercises and discussions designed to instill in the girls an increased sense of worth. In addition, Dinah helped them all create personal mission and vision statements to refer to regularly as a reminder of what they want for themselves.

Success Story: Dinah used this exercise to illustrate the need to 'put first things first': using stones, beans, and a dish, the girls had to make sure that all the stones and the beans fit in the dish. They learned that they first had to put the stones in the then pour the beans over, filling the spaces left among the stones. They understood that when they make education their priority, the rest of their lives will fall into place.


LILLIAN NANSUBUGA

Issue: Sex Education

Venture: Lillian focused her energy on girls aged 12-17, teaching them ways to avoid unhealthy relationships and how to avoid becoming pregnant. Lillian realized that, while the girls had had some sex education, most of them still did not understand it, leaving them vulnerable. Lillian did extensive research in order to present the material in ways the girls could comprehend it.

Success Story: Because of her success teaching the students, Lillian was invited to speak to the parents at a local church. She was extremely nervous but the Headmistress of the school spoke so highly of Lillian and her venture during her introduction that Lillian felt her confidence soar. She managed her presentation flawlessly and the parents were very impressed.


RACHAEL BEDAYIKA

Issue: Girl Drop-Outs

Venture: Rachael focused on a dozen young girls in the community who had dropped out of school. She helped them all find ways to earn or raise the money they needed for tuition.

Success Story: Three of the twelve girls returned to school, including a girl who had dropped out because she was pregnant.


SHARON ARIPA

Issue: Girls' Education

Venture: Sharon learned that most young girls in her community become pregnant lured by the hope that the men they engage with will provide for them. She decided to introduce students at two local primary schools to a better, safer way to help meet their basic needs, including school fees. Using small plots of land contributed by the schools, Sharon and a total of 377 girls planted fields of tomatoes and more than 100 orange seedlings. Proceeds from the sale of harvested tomatoes provide support for girls in the following school year; the orange trees are a longer-term economic solution. Sharon used the garden work along with classroom discussion, discipleship principles, and illustrated stories to teach about early pregnancy, including the causes and risky behaviors that predispose young girls to it, and the effects of and life skills necessary to avoid early pregnancy. The girls now feel more likely to avoid the risky behaviors they formerly felt they had to engage in.

Success Story: School administrators and teachers at both schools were so impressed with Sharon's venture and grateful for the investment in their students' future, they committed to continuing the field activities and the open dialogue with the students long-term.



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