Global Grassroots 2011 Year-End Magazine - Page 37

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Global Grassroots 2011

Seraphine Hacimana &

Hard Workers*

By Jamie Persons

Seraphine Hacimana is 40 years old, and is raising eight children. She is a subsistence farmer, and she has a primary school education. Seraphine is also a leader in her community. She speaks at community meetings about women's roles in local problem solving. Her story has been featured on radio programs and newspapers throughout Rwanda as an example of women's power and agency.

Hard Workers started four years ago when Seraphine and 18 other women in the rural village of Gahanga decided to addresses the host of problems tied to water access.

In many parts of Rwanda, women have to walk anywhere from 1-4 hours to collect water daily. They walk miles to a local well or creek to draw contaminated and dirty water, fill two 5-gallon jerry cans to carry back home every single day. Girls tasked with this job do not have time to attend school. The early-morning journey

“Now, my kids are not late to school. My domestic animals have enough water. Life has improved.”

- Beneficiary of Hard Workers

leaves women vulnerable to attack as they walk in the dark or can trigger domestic abuse if they take too long. For women who are elderly, sick with HIV, blind, pregnant or disabled, the journey is almost impossible. But a family with children can’t survive without water

Women too weak to make the journey face sexual exploitation by deliverymen, in order to access this basic resource.

Through Global Grassroots' Academy program, the Hard Workers team created

a sustainable water venture that supplies 1000 people with fresh, clean water daily.

The team installed a water tank and a system of collecting rainwater from the roof of a local church. They sell the water to those who can afford it, and the revenue generated from those customers ensures that the most vulnerable always have water for free. With any profits, the team pays school fees for local orphans and buys annual health insurance for vulnerable women and their families.

Of the 19 women on Hard Worker’s team, only seven are actually literate. But they have become community leaders – the first to bring development to their rural area. And after four years, they are not only operating sustainably, but they are in the process of expanding their non-profit to reach another 6000 people.

Long-Term Impact

photo by Laya Madsen