Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Nearly three weeks ago we joined people from all around the globe who marked and celebrated International Women’s Day 2018, and what a better time than now to invest in people and especially in women and girls.
On 8th March in the small Rwandan village of Rutsiro we all headed to a small ‘model village’ which is the name given to the communities who consist of the poorest Rwandan families who have houses, schools and health insurance funded by the government’s money. Opportunities are sparse here and resources very limited, the unspoken norm is that when the girls become women they are expected to marry a husband and birth children to create a family of their own, this is therefore the circumstance of the majority of the women in the model village.

volunteers in International women's day

In the playground of the local school the organisers of the International Women’s Day community event in the village helped to create a stage space surrounded by benches, chairs and large speakers with a sound system, this paved way for the meeting and celebrations to begin with the ICS volunteers and the local community in Rutsiro. And so it began, the leaders of the sector and the village introduced themselves and spoke of how far women have come and then what needs changing in the mind-set of the local women such as gender equality within the family and raising their children of the future, both girls and boys to be educated well. The leader also spoke of women’s evening which is a community event that exists weekly, the women attend a meeting and discuss issues in their family life and work together to find possible solutions, the husbands are actually supposed to attend this event alongside their wife but unfortunately they do not and so the leader emphasised this as an example in the need for genders to become more equal.
community leaders delivering speech

Following on from the speech of the leader it was the ICS volunteers turn to make an impact to the community, we all performed a pre-collaborated theatre drama to the audience and the moral of this was to express the importance of gender equality and human rights from a sketch of alcoholism, domestic violence and neglect of their children. The local community then performed their drama which focused on gender equality and ensuring parents encourage their young girls to remain in school to achieve an education and as a protection to avoid the problem of older pimps that exist here, this was then followed by ladies dancing a traditional Rwandan dance. The ladies dancing looked beautiful dressed in traditional blue skirts with yellow sashes, the music was loud and the sun was shining down on a vibrant atmosphere where everybody then joined in with dancing and singing together. After the International Women’s Day 2018 community event finished it was later followed by everybody sharing food with one another.

 Nutrition demonstation
The ICS volunteers and Innocent (Field officer of Kopakama) travelled Cyarusero cell in aid of helping the mothers and their malnourished children by educating the mothers and cooking by demonstration before feeding everybody.

Everybody got stuck into the food preparation of washing, peeling and chopping potatoes, tomatoes, onions and carrots. A few other volunteers washed and dried the dishes and cups whilst the community health workers and a few other ICS volunteers started cooking the sorghum porridge, this was then given out to all mothers and children as the cooks continued to cook a healthy meal. Once the meal was ready it covered the whole of the dish – rice, beans and green vegetables, fish in peanut sauce, potatoes and chips. This was followed by a banana or boiled eggs for all of the children who were aged between six months and two years old.

During this nutritional feeding practice session the ICS team leader gave a speech in Kinyarwanda to the local mothers relating to the different food groups that contribute to a balanced diet, the importance of a regular diet for the children and their growth, the effects of malnutrition for children into adolescence, the available local foods that can help to prevent malnutrition and the importance of sanitation and hygiene when cooking.

volunteers feeding community
The session finished positively with the mums and their children having been educated and fed and the mothers then reflected back what they had learnt about a balanced diet and how they would now put it into practice when they cook at home for their children in the future. 
volunteers with community health workers
                                                         Written by Laurisa

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