Global Grassroots 2011 Year-End Magazine - Page 18

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Global Grassroots 2011

Growing up, Christine knew a few abitangira abandi ( which literally translates as 'people who sacrifice themselves for others', in other words: social change agents), but all of them were male. “Because most women – we used to ignore ourselves, thinking that you are not valued by the society. You are not of value to the society; you are not of value to anyone. Thinking that it’s better if you can stay at home, just doing your activities at home.” Her work with Team of Love has changed Christine’s life dramatically. “Now I feel like I can move,” Christine explains. “I can join the other people. We can talk. Sometimes we can have different ideas… 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.”

Christine says her membership in People of Love has helped her to feel less alone. To know that she can make plans, make decisions, and make a difference – as a woman – is hugely empowering.

Christine’s husband is supportive of her involvement with People of Love, largely because she shares with him the knowledge she has learned from Global Grassroots’ training and from the venture development process. Christine’s new ability to bring knowledge back to her family from a group setting has a second consequence; it establishes the credibility of her opinions within her own home.

Christine says that if a woman tries to introduce the subject of gender equality to her husband, on her own, he will not listen to any of her ideas. “But once you go join the other people and come back and share with him, he will maybe start to value that and see how very important it is for women and men to be equal. Because he knows that people have been

trained or learned from each other.”

Christine’s husband is more likely to value opinions that arose from group discussions or from a source external to the community. As a result, his consideration of, and respect for, Christine’s ideas has increased since she began work with People of Love.

Christine herself, therefore, is evidence of what increased participation in community affairs will do for Buguri’s women. Water access will mean even more than getting a female say in decisions about community development. It will mean giving women a voice among their neighbors and within their homes. It will mean credibility for both genders.

The path to People of Love’s goals, however, is not an easy one. The team began their program development process nearly a year ago. Already, they have faced and resolved engineering challenges, land rights issues, and tricky requirements from district officials.

Within a few weeks, Christine and her team will move out of the program development phase, receive their first grant for construction, and begin to lay water pipes. They have chosen an easily accessible building site, just beside the central path through their mountainous community. They will prove wrong any who doubt them. They’ll add new, female voices to the chorus that is community. They’ll use that community as a forum to give credibility to more progressive beliefs about women’s rights and abilities.

The Buguri that Christine leaves to her now-four-year-old daughter, Joyeuse, will be a brighter place – excluding a minor dip in the hen population.