yesterday was WGC’s last day with the BUWEA women. We went to Kumono village to and met a group of about 15 women there to do a workshop on leadership, led by Tamarra, and starting a business, led by Barb. We then went back to the BUWEA office and had lunch with the BUWEA leaders. Tamarra then introduced the Ruby Cup to them and distributed a few so that they could try them out and advocate for them within their communities. Natalia later led a strategic planning workshop with the leaders. After that, Tamarra, Alison and Natalia tried on their new Bukoba dresses and then we had a lovely goodbye dinner with them all. It was a very bittersweet day for us all as we will miss all these ladies very deeply. We can’t wait to see what they will do in the future!
The BUWEA milling machine area has really developed with activity generated by the machine. This is one of the few milling operations in the area that has done well … due to the great management! Glad to see the workers are now wearing the ear protection and face masks. Learned this time that one of the first BUWEA members, Theodicia, provided the property for the machine. Many people come to grind soy, corn, bananas, and cassava into flours. The new charcoal machine, donated by WGC supporters, is near the milling machine. Ground up paper is brought from the BUWEA office here. The machine makes charcoal bricks, they dry for 2 days and then are sold in small bags. Fires from charcoal are not only cheaper than using firewood but also much cleaner. We were honored to meet Joyce Kayoza, the Executive Officer of this Ward. She thanked WGC for supporting BUWEA and asked us to continue and we asked her to continue with government support. To be continued on Monday and then Tuesday we head to Kenya!
Had a great day yesterday – Saturday. We were in 3 villages – Bukugo, Itahwa, and Kitwe. Of course, we exchanged warm greetings in each place. In the first two we attended the monthly loan fund meetings. The Bujugo Zone has 128 BUWEA members in 28 groups and 70 of these women were there. In Itahwa 54 women from 25 area groups were there. Both groups have their meetings in parish churches. Coordinators Adventina and Consolatha collected payments from women with loans and also processed new loan applications. Their record keeping is very detailed. A Group (4-5 Women usually) attends together. The Group applies for a loan as a group; the Group leader gives out the funds for each of the women’s business projects, and when all in the Group have paid off the entire loan, the Group can come together and apply for a new loan. The money is constantly circulating. Women hold each other accountable and help each other Pay if need be. It’s a really amazing system! The loan interest is used partially to grow the fund and partly to pay for coordinator expenses. The women are learning so much in this process and their families benefit greatly. In Itahwa we met Father David – this is another parish now partnering with BUWEA for mutual benefit. In Bujugo it was wonderful to see some of the women on their bicycles from a US Embassy grant. It is unbelievable how life transforming a basic bicycle is here. Many many more are needed.
The girls greet us with a song as we arrive to their campus in the morning. “Good Morning to you, welcome to Hekima” 🎶🎶🎶
Laughing and smiling for a photo, the girls wait patiently for the Stress Management and Leadership workshops to begin.
We squeeze in for a selfie after a tour of the Hekima campus, dancing, singing, and outdoor yoga.
How do you sum up an 8 hour day filled with a beautiful drive into the hills, Lake Victoria views as we drove to our destination where 96 women from villages throughout the hillside waited anxiously to welcome us with open arms, song and dance? We later found out that several women and their church priest paddled a boat for 1.5 hours from one of the 11 islands tucked out in the Lake Victoria, to spend the day with us listening to our workshops on stress management, leadership, networking, and menstrual cups. This audience sat quietly for more than 4 hours with their full attention on our presentations. They are among some of the newer BUWEA members from outlying parishes whose priests are collaborating with BUWEA to support the women.
Wrapped up the long day “in the “field” giving out certificates and celebrating with the women who individually one by one showered us with gifts of home grown produce. Later we enjoyed some down time having fun meeting some of the locals.
WGC spent all morning visiting the Katerero and Kanazi villages to see some of the BUWEA member’s projects, including a member named Sophia; as well as the new rainwater harvesters they have built.
Fun fact: these medium sized harvesters reach an average of 10 families!
We also had Barbara present her workshop on “How to start a business” and the importance of networking. “I have seen the economic impact empowering women has in our villages, therefore I understand the importance of women’s empowerment and education” as stated by a BUWEA husband present at the workshop. WGC also spent some time in the afternoon exploring the Bukoba market and meeting an old friend, Jessica, who came to say hello.
BUWEA Swahili translator, Dativa, engages workshop participants in a discussion about stress management led by WGC staff, Tamarra Mencey.
WGC Director of Sustainability, Alison Buck, demonstrates a conflict resolution scenario with recent UIW master’s graduate and WGC intern, Natalia Hernandez.
The WGC Immersion team arrived safely in Dar Es Salaam late Monday 7/9. Tuesday was a recovery and layover day there. Then very early this morning (7/10) we were off again to our actual destination in Tanzania – Bukoba. We’ll share about our welcome, tours and workshops from this afternoon in the next post.
Four excited travelers and our send-off team are at the San Antonio Airport. We’re on our way! We will share more of our work and travels over the coming weeks. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.
Peru travelers, Professor Alfredo Ortiz and PhD student Monica Hernandez collaborated on a series of workshops highlighting Photovoice to better understand the women of Pushaq Warmi in the hopes of increasing the sustainability of the organization. This has stemmed from a interim consultancy report on WGC and Pushaq Warmi created by doctoral students Monica Hernandez, Martha Cias, and Rekha Khulal Pant in Ortiz’s course, Entrepreneurship for Economic Development, during the Spring 2018 semester. Photovoice is a tool using images to document people’s realities while drawing attention to issues and concerns within their community.
In order to achieve this, our travelers first got to know the women through a series of interviews, encounters, and social interactions. Developing a relationship with the women was seen as an important part of knowing the mission and values of the group. Through this, WGC and PW can work towards syrengthening their partnership. During the first day-long workshop, Professor Ortiz along with his colleague, Juan Carlos Macedo, conducted a series of activities to strengthen the communication between the Pushaq Warmi members. This included a River of Life exercise in which a timeline of the organization’s significant moments was created and drawing a tree which highlighted what the women felt were the ‘fruits’ and ‘spoils’ of the group. Another exercise using the women’s own photos helped to illustrate the many different ‘hats’ the women wear in work, family, within PW, and in other capacities. All of these exercises served to better understand the commitment of the women.
Monica Hernandez then carried out a two-hour workshop introducing the women to Photovoice and showing them how it can help them better voice their concerns in their community on a number of topics pertinent to their organization. Photovoice involves a series of steps or phases in order to effectively execute beginning with training and culminating in a community exhibition. Topics of relevance of the group include: self-esteem, women’s empowerment, financial literacy, and entrepreneurship. The Showed Method, an integral part of photovoice, makes for a rich discussion between the members in identifying major issues in one’s community and what project participants can actively do about them.
Finally, during a post-workshop Monica then gave the Pushaq Warmi women the task of successfully executing Photovoice as a group. She expects to be an important part of helping the women carry out this project in the months to come and also act as a liaison between WGC and Pushaq Warmi. The women of Pushaq Warmi are all strong leaders committed to the betterment of their community and reaching out to very underserved populations in and around Chimbote, Peru. This was evident when the group invited the WGC travelers to a workshop where they put on a puppet show to a classroom of small children introducing them to the dangers of sexual abuse and then having the kids step out and play while PW talked with the mothers of the children about what they could to do to help prevent such a crime. Strengthening the partnership between WGC and Pushaq Warmi is important in order for the women in Peru to further provide training to other women in their community and work towards education and empowerment.