Global Grassroots 2011 Year-End Magazine - Page 35

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Global Grassroots 2011

One night, Vianney Musonera visited a family in his neighborhood and found the husband, Janvier, beating his wife, Marlène. “I interrupted Janvier and said, ‘Hey! What are you doing? Why are you beating your wife?’ He left his wife and turned to me and said, ‘Why are you getting involved in this situation??’”

“I kept my calm and tried to be humble and tell him, ‘Don’t you see that this is bad?’ The man was shouting, and he took a jerry can of water and threw it at me. But I stayed – I didn’t run away – I stayed. I kept on telling him, ‘This is bad. The government are the only ones in charge of punishing people who do things wrong. You shouldn’t beat your wife this way’… By the end of the conflict, he had calmed down and stopped beating his wife.”

“This is the kind of thing that is common in my community,” Vianney explains. Sometimes the scale of the problem is daunting. But each small fight against gender-based violence has its own, incalculable worth. “I did my best,” Vianney says about his interference with Janvier, “and that woman was not beaten that night.”

Vianney’s hope is that one day, his community in Nyarugenge, Rwanda will be free of gender-based violence (GBV). As secretary and treasurer of Turwubake, Vianney leads a team of 25 in an effort to reduce violence and support victims of abuse. He is the only man – working alongside 24 women – and yet his

leadership within the organization is paralleled only by Turwubake’s president, Jeanine Karigirwa. Vianney considers himself lucky. “I’m very passionate about working on something that can remove or reduce violence among women,” he explains. “I was fortunate to be the one, among all the men in this community, to be chosen to work on women’s issues.”

Turwubake runs a tailoring course that provides victims of GBV with economic independence. They host morning and afternoon sessions in a rented room near the Nyamirambo market. Its green walls - cheerfully splattered with blue and yellow drips – echo with the chatter of students and the clunks of their sewing machines.Turwubake also does educational outreach in their community on topics such as women’s rights and anti-violence law, and they run several fundraising projects to ensure their operations are sustainable.

Through each day’s work with the Turwubake program, Vianney moves his community toward an intolerance of GBV

Change Agent Profile:

Vianney Musonera

Turwubake: Construct the Family*

By Christina Hueschen

photo by Christina Hueschen