Wednesday afternoon, Spark facilitators Aloys and Solange and Facilitator Coordinator Sydney attended a community meeting in Gatandori, a breathtakingly beautiful community with long stone walls of volcanic rock. The meeting opened with the community handing in its finished proposal, but the remainder of the time was spent on a new Spark initiative: Women’s Empowerment training. Community members discussed gender equality, breaking into groups to list tasks typically viewed as performed only by men and only by women. Solange then spoke to the fluidity of these roles, emphasizing the necessity of seeing many tasks as having the potential to be completed by both men and women, and a community member underscored her point by noting recent shifts in perception of gender roles, with women in the community participating in building, which would have been unthinkable a few years ago. The meeting ended with a strong affirmation of the value of women’s contributions, with Solange declaring that lack of female participation in the Spark process – and outside it – would result in a community that is only half as strong. In the next few weeks, Spark is looking forward to beginning trainings in many of the communities with which we work!
In a meeting that opened and closed with singing, dancing, and drumming, members of Gassagara met Thursday afternoon to work on revising their proposal for their sheep-rearing project. The community worked to adjust the budget to adequately reflect needed inputs, discussed the importance of building pens, and ended by considering the importance of seeing sheep-rearing as the foundation for future development efforts.
Situated high in the mountains overlooking one of Rwanda’s beautiful lakes, Karuganda, once fully-funded, will be home to a vocational school for sweater making. Led by Spark facilitator Consolee, and held on benches in the shade of the school house, the meeting focused on discussing next steps, with the community splitting into groups to brainstorm work that remains to be done.
Having already received over one hundred goats and sheep – and with a new 5-day-old baby goat – Gahonga met Tuesday afternoon to discuss how to ensure the livestock had maximum impact, with the discussion centering around how to accommodate families whose animals had died and plans for using sheep manure in the August harvest. Community members then turned to discussing its new project, an effort to capitalize on the skills gleaned from the Spark process to address another problem facing the community: the lack of clean drinking water.
Members of the Nyagyseni community met early Tuesday morning. With Spark having only recently become involved with Nyagyseni, the community is in the very early stages of planning: led by Spark facilitator Claude, alongside a selected community leader, community members spent the roughly hour-long meeting listing problems within the community. In the coming months, the community will meet weekly, working to choose one problem, identify its causes, and brainstorm solutions, paving the way for Nyagyseni to put a microgrant from Spark to use.
Our visiting photographer, Perry Bindelglass, opened Kajevuba’s community meeting today with a quick photography tutorial. The community loved seeing their images on the digital cameras, and it got our meeting off to a great start! Check out some of Perry’s work at his website, bindelglassphoto.blogspot.com.
Happy 2013, everyone! This is Aileen, Spark’s Program Development Associate. I thought I’d kick off the new year by writing a post about a recent visit I took to Kanyendara with our facilitator Aloys.
Kanyendara is in the process of planning a goat and sheep rearing project to address the dual challenges of food insecurity and income generation. As part of the project planning process, Spark works to connect our communities to local experts who can help communities plan for a sustainable project and answer any questions they may have. For Kanyendara, that meant inviting a sector veterinarian to a recent meeting to teach the community members about proper animal rearing techniques.
Over 60 adults attended the training, which started with a “crash course” in animal rearing and ended with the veterinarian taking questions. The community members had some great questions, asking about topics like how to recognize illness in their animals and how much space they should allocate for pens.
At the end of the day, the vet offered to stop by Kanyendara after they receive their
grant to make sure their animals are healthy and help them create safe living environments for them. The community members are excited to get going with their grant!
Interested in helping the Kanyendara community accomplish their goals? Donate to their project on our website here: http://www.sparkmicrogrants.org/?page_id=2727
The Kajevuba community gathered today to decide on a structure for their MicroGrant leadership. After agreeing to a board of seven members, the community voted and made sure to divide the positions up between the genders. The next step for Kajevuba is deciding on what type of project they want to do. We’re excited to see how this dynamic group chooses to use their grant!
Gisovu community members had a chance to talk with a member of the Nyarwando community today at their community meeting. The Nyarwando leader presented the design that the community used for their latrines, and discussed their successes and challenges. Gisovu villagers were able to ask questions about latrine construction, project management, and hygiene. What a great exchange of knowledge across communities!
The women of the Tujijuke Bagore Association have recently had a successful harvest of beans and maize, which has allowed them to increase their families’ food security. The women attribute their successful harvest to using the manure from their goats and sheep, that they received from Spark.