Global Grassroots 2011 Year-End Magazine - Page 13

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Global Grassroots 2011

“When I realized that [domestic violence in my community] is a mindset problem,” Charlotte Nyiraneza says, “I was asking myself, ‘Which way can I contribute to make awareness of human rights, awareness of the reality of life?’ Then I come to realize that theater is a powerful way; I can use this tool.”

So one day, on her own, Charlotte started work on what would become a community theater organization called Achieving a Better Life. “Just because I had the idea,” she says. “I took a pen and a notebook, and I started writing. Women’s rights, I don’t know, culture, I don’t know… I started

Seize the Day*

writing! And I don’t know what is going on, and what is going to be next. And then I collected people: ‘Come! We can play theater! We can!’”

Four years later, the Achieving a Better Life theater troupe has reached thousands of women and men through live performances, films, and discussions that expose and challenge all forms of physical, sexual, and verbal domestic violence. But the long list of ABL’s successes began with that one moment: a young woman picked up a pen and notebook.

Today is another day of moments: Charlotte edges forward in her chair, her hands clasped around her right knee. Beyond the cement porch, children’s laundry flaps on the clotheslines that stretch across her yard. You sit, reading this story. Remember, please, that these are the best beginnings: “I don’t know what is going on, and what is going to be next.”

* Achieving a Better Life Program Video

photo by Gretchen Wallace