Global Grassroots 2011 Year-End Magazine - Page 21

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Global Grassroots 2011

Médiatrice Mushimiyimana likes science books and foods with soft textures, like sauce on rice. She owns one pig, six chickens, and four cows. Two adults and two baby calves. Even as a child, Médiatrice knew she wanted to be a teacher. Now, she is forty-six years old and has four children of her own. Média is soft-spoken, with a gentle way of moving and a kind, smooth face. Média was the first teacher at Byimana Primary to consider why so many girls dropped out of school once they reached puberty, and she became the leader of the Think about the Young Girls organization.

Médiatrice’s work on the Think About the Young Girls project had one unexpected outcome; the district recognized her efforts with a promotion to headmaster of a new primary school. Just when her struggles for girls’ safety and education at Byimana had paid off, Média found herself in charge of an underfunded, more rural school with all the same problems. Now, Médiatrice spends her days supervising school

maintenance, monitoring teacher and student attendance, and solving parent, teacher, and student problems. Her school has a flagpole, a field, a flower garden, and one building of classrooms packed with over five hundred students. Every morning, she sets up her desk outdoors on a walkway beside one of the classrooms.

“It seems that maybe I’m going to start from zero,” says Média. “I’m starting from the beginning because the problems that I had before – Think About the Young Girls project from Byimana – they are the same problems. But now the difference is that in Byimana… the girls are safe; they have their own latrines; they have their sanitation [supplies] every month… But the parents here, they even think that if the girls are in their menstruation period, they shouldn’t move [from their homes]!” Community members of all ages in this isolated, mountain-top neighborhood have “low knowledge or understanding” of gender issues. “It’s the community that really needs too much work.”

It’s discouraging to start over. But Médiatrice is a change agent, whatever her environment. She cannot do nothing. She may get overwhelmed, some days, but she knows how to cope. She spends some time alone, away from all noise and stressors, and she sings, and then she finds herself thinking, “I can.”

Change Agent Profile:

Médiatrice Mushimiyimana

Think About the Young Girls*

By Christina Hueschen