Global Grassroots 2011 Year-End Magazine - Page 17

16

Global Grassroots 2011

Christine Nyirandeya’s chickens always die. When Christine married at the age of twenty-two, she moved to Buguri from another village within Kamonyi District. “I think [the chickens] didn’t like my place,” she says. “Or maybe the meals that I gave them weren’t appropriate.” None survived. Eventually, Christine gave up on chickens. But she raises goats and a cow and grows beans, peas, maize, cassava, potatoes, and soy – and all of those do just fine.

She is a woman of infinite laughter and busy movement, and she is very, very brainy. The other members of People of Love – a group of change agents working to bring water access to Buguri in order to reduce violence and discrimination faced by women – asked her to act as secretary because of her sharp intelligence. “I think they do believe in me – believe that I’m one who can design the project. I can really give thought to the project.” Christine smiles and ducks her head. “Or maybe someone who has good ideas, or thoughts, or is open-minded.” She is now one of five key leaders of the People of Love non-profit water venture.

“Not having access to water is causing many problems and is an obstacle for people to move forward to where they want to be,” Christine explains. Women and girls spend a huge proportion of their days struggling down into the valley and then straining up the

mountainside with yellow jerry cans of water. “They never have time to do anything else that they want to do in their lives, [like] participate in community activities.”

Christine envisions a community in which women are full citizens and leaders of development. Instead of missing morning classes to fetch water, girls will be in school full-time. Education about gender-based violence and women’s rights will have eliminated community tolerance of domestic abuse, and water access will have removed the most common triggers of violence.

“Now I feel like I can move... I can join the other people...I have come to understand my own value. I know that I can participate in the team. I can help them; I can give my ideas.”

Change Agent Profile:

Christine Nyirandeya

People of Love*

By Christina Hueschen

photo by Laya Madsen