Joseph Habyarimana is 50 years old and lives in Rubona village, Gitwa cell, Rubengera Sector, Karongi District. He got married in 1990 and had four children with his first wife who passed away in 2008. Faced with such a difficult situation, Joseph realized that he was not able to take care of the four children alone and got married to Jeanne in 2009. In 2012, both Joseph and his wife tested HIV positive after he became seriously ill.

“It was very hard for me to accept this test result. I was put on antiretroviral therapy (ART) at the health center, but two years later, I stopped the treatment as I felt that these medicines were making me sick,” Joseph explained.

Concerned about his worsening health condition, Joseph’s wife started sharing her antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) with him and soon both begun to experience repeated episodes of opportunistic infections. “Although I was weak, I continued to refuse to take ART. Relatives and neighbors did not know that we were HIV positive, and often advised us to go for HIV testing. Fearing we would be stigmatized, we would tell them that we had taken the HIV test and were both negative. I was ashamed to disclose my status because of my advanced age,” explained Joseph.

Joseph and his wife were both getting weak and were unable to work to support their family. Their children were developing signs of illness as a result of undernutrition. They were not attending school either. “In June 2016, we were enrolled in the USAID Twiyubake program. Bernadette Mukantagara, a program case management volunteer (CMV) was assigned to help us. She conducted an assessment and helped us to develop a care plan. A couple of times she talked about HIV/AIDS and asked about our status, but we didn’t want to disclose to her. After a couple of visits we decided to disclose to her our HIV status. She learned that I was not taking ARVs and begun to persuade me to visit the clinic for treatment. It took her two months to convince me to go to the health center, but I finally went and started taking ARVs regularly. I had not visited a health center for the last four years. Since I resumed taking ART, I have regained my health and I am now able to work regularly to support my family. I am cultivating on my farm and renting land from neighbors to earn money for the family,” he revealed.

Joseph is a member of a saving group supported by the Twiyubake program. He has continued to save and hopes to take a loan to invest in an income generating activity. Through the saving group and CMV, Joseph and his family have learned a lot about saving, nutrition and sanitation. They practice some of the positive health behaviors promoted by the program, such as proper hand washing, positive nutrition, and the use of clean and covered latrines.

Joseph’s family did not have a latrine before they were enrolled in the program. However, the education he received on hygiene and sanitation from the CMV and other community-based volunteers motivated him to construct one.

In March 2017, Joseph was linked to and joined the Rwanda Network of People living with HIV (RRP+). He has become an active member of the network, participating in outreach activities and using his story to educate other people living with HIV about the importance of adherence to treatment.

gender training1In June 2017, USAID Twiyubake delivered a workshop on gender mainstreaming. The workshop was facilitated by Dr. Marcia Odell, Senior Director for Gender Equality Plan International, Jennifer Albee Plan’s Women Lead Institute in Washington and USAID Twiyubake Gender Advisor. Edouard Munyamaliza, the Executive Director of the Rwanda Men’s Resource Center, facilitated a session on fostering gender equality through positive masculinities using the MenEngage approach.

The workshop enabled program staff to get introduced to the gender mainstreaming tool developed by Plan International and to explore two paths for mainstreaming gender across the program, which are girls’ and women’s leadership development and male engagement in the life and work of families and communities.

Gender communication visit

On June 14, 2017, Amy Condra, the USAID Communications Specialist from the Office of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Washington, D.C., and Triphine Munganyinka, USAID Rwanda Development Program Specialist, visited the USAID Twiyubake program in Mageragere sector, Nyarugenge district to observe gender integration activities. The team visited a household which had experienced and resolved gender-based violence and a Boys4Change club.

Twiyubake-supported household resolves gender concerns

Katharina and Paul have been married for 20 years and they have four children. Today Katharina is an elected representative of the National Women Council at the cell level. When she has to attend a National Women Council meeting, her husband stays at home and does the household chores. Paul is happy to see his wife involved in the National Women Council’s affairs.

But things have not always been this way. For most of the 20 years they have been married, Katharina was the sole care giver and provider for her family. Her husband was addicted to alcohol. “When I came home, my wife and children would run away as they feared me. Even my neighbors were avoiding me as much as they could. I was terrifying everyone in my surrounding. I was always drunk and I wasted so much money, I did not support my children. We even were not able to buy salt to put in the food,” Paul explained.

When Paul enrolled in a Twiyubake supported saving group, his life changed. He received financial education and was taught to have a plan for his life. “Before I lived from day to day. My spouse did everything. When she harvested our crop and sold it, I spent the money on alcohol. It was terrible,” he explained.

Through participation in various Twiyubake activities, the couple received lessons on GBV, positive masculinity, child rights and learned how to live in harmony. Paul is member of the savings group and farmer field school. They have a kitchen garden and receive lessons on nutrition, WASH and family planning from their case management volunteer. Now they live in harmony with each other. In June they purchased health insurance for the entire household and for 2018 they plan to invest in a cow.

How a Boys4Change club is advancing positive masculinity

The visitors also visited the Duhugurane Boys4Change club. The 27 boys, aged 15-24, have been trained on positive masculinity. During the visit, club members presented songs, a skit and testimonies explaining the changes they have experienced through their participation in the club. They explained how they previously only helped with their father’s work, but not their mother’s or sisters’ chores. Through the club, they learned why it’s important for both girls and boys to participate in household chores, such as cleaning, cooking and dishwashing. “I’m comfortable to help my sisters in household chores and I started to sensitize other boys and men to become.

UWAIn collaboration with MIGEPROF and the National Women Council (NWC), USAID Twiyubake and partners participated in the development of the Parents Evening Forum User Guideline and in the training of trainers for local authority leaders, national and district NWC representatives, and the Rwanda Partner Organizations who cascaded the training to community volunteers. As a result, USAID Twiyubake community volunteers are actively mobilizing and encouraging community members, especially men, to attend the parents evening forum.

Ruhango, a village of 105 households, is holding the parents evening forum every last Friday of the month. The group started in May 2016 with 20 members and now counts 54 active members, of which 40 are women and 14 are men. Out of the 54 members, 16 are enrolled in USAID Twiyubake saving group and two program volunteers are parents evening forum committee members.

When the USAID Twiyubake team visited the group on May 26, 2017, the community volunteers, Uwingabire Alphonsine and Josephine Uwimana led discussions on family planning and positive parenting. Topics which they regularly teach in the program’s saving group and households.

Commenting on the performance of her forum, Annonciata Musabyimana, the president of the parents evening forum, said she was very satisfied with the group’s achievements. The parents evening forum members supported their group members in buying community health insurances for 12 destitute families. In April, they visited genocide survivor households. The group was also able to increase their revenue by investing in various income generating activities. Members initiated a saving group and opened a bank account at a SACCO. On a rented 700 m2 acre land, they are cultivating maize, sorghum and beans, which so far produced a return of Rwf 350,000. Their target is to buy their own land to cultivate.

 Connect with Us  Facebook7Twitter7