Saturday, January 29, 2011

Community updates!

In the southern district of Rwanda a new HIV association is starting to develop project proposals to fight stigma and poverty. The Ubutware Bwo Kubaho association is implementing their goat project that they began to plan in September. We have another new community in northern Rwanda with an HIV association in Musanze. Also in Musanze, but in a different sector and village, the Kinigi group is developing their plans for agriculture production.

In the southern district of Rwanda, the Ubutware Bwo Kubaho group has been organizing and collecting goats for their MicroGrant project. Out of 90 total goats they have found 48 and excited to finally see their plans put into action. They aim to see all 1701 cooperative members have a goat in the following years. They have a savings account set up where members will put small amounts in weekly and the money will be reserved for emergencies, such as when a member (or a goat!) gets sick. Some of the women shared information about their history, what happened during the genocide and how hard it is today for them to meet their basic needs. Their excitement over the goats and eagerness to start projects to improve their living standards was a touching contrast.

Next door to Ubutware Bwo Kubaho is a clinic where a newly formed HIV Association is struggling; members are dealing with high rates of stigmatization, food insecurity and poverty. The members have identified stigmatization and poverty as their main problems and designing proposals for businesses that will promote their strength and fight stigmatization by showing that HIV+ people can run successful projects. Their ideas include animal rearing, basket weaving, setting up HIV clubs, running a shop to sell grains, selling honey, and making and selling soap as a community. For both the basket weaving and soap making projects, they mentioned the group could do the work together and when they hold meetings, they could have action steps to take within the business, such as make more soap or train more people basket weaving techniques. A few members shared that they had skills they could teach other cooperative members and help their business. Above is a picture of a woman presenting a proposal her group came up with around the idea of basket weaving. Over fifty people participated in the meeting.

In the north, two communities are developing their proposals. One is in Kinigi, where they are going forward with a project proposal to address food insecurity through planting potatoes. Families in the community rarely have enough food and their diet is not very diverse, leading to malnutrition. A mother in one of the meetings was failing to breast feed because her body could not produce enough milk. Hopefully with their project household nutrition will increase. The last meeting was held with over eighty people from the village to plan for cultivation. To the left is Ernest, our facilitator in Kinigi, with a group discussing how to share the land.

In another sector, an HIV association is developing a number of proposals to fight stigmatization, increase education, and support people who are very badly affected by the disease. These plans are in their initial stages but include caring for people who are hiding from the community out of shame, holding fun activities with school groups for testing and developing an outreach program to bring activities to communities in three sectors. The photo on the right is of a youth group that wants to establish their own association for fighting HIV/AIDS and stimulating fellow youth to do so as well.

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