Lessons Learned by The Salvation Army From Working with Rural Women
Brief summary of presentation of information made
Presentations were made about The Salvation Army’s work in rural areas around the world. The panel was moderated by Major Victoria Edmonds.
Major Mary Muindi, The Salvation Army Others Kenya Coordinator
Major Mary Muindi shared about her work with the ‘Others’ programme in Kenya. ‘Others’ is a Salvation Army programme which provides women with opportunities for income generation by making products. She shared how the programme not only provides financial support to women but also healing and support, creates leadership opportunities, and empowers and educates those involved. Product sales have become a point for building relationships and starting conversations and provide women the means to support their vulnerable families. These women are now able to construct homes and educate their children.
The products that are produced include
- Recycle paper products
- Rice sacks
- Christmas decorations
Lessons learned from working with women in Kenya through the Others programme
- Empowering women creates leaders
- Empowerment is a transformational process and not quick
- Relationships are critical
- Small change can make a big difference
Bram Bailey, Program Director for The Salvation Army World Service Office
Bram Bailey shared about projects from South America.
In Ecuador The Salvation Army is working with locals to claim back their land from those who are working it to excess to grow roses and make a profit. The need for their children to learn other skills for the future has been identified and the locals are now working with the local authorities to ensure people are informed about land use.
In Bolivia a Salvation Army hospital is reaching out to their community. Primary health care is now being undertaken by community centres where women are educating others about family planning, breast feeding and immunisation.
Dr Patience Fielding, Program Management Specialist, The Salvation Army World Service Office
Dr Patience Fielding works in India, Nepal, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Georgia, Moldova and the Ukraine. In these places she focuses on the areas of livelihood, anti trafficking, disaster relief, health and education.
She shared stories from around the world of how The Salvation Army is supporting girls to embrace education, providing women with capacity training, facilitating women and men to work together to strategically plan for their community and educating men about gender equality.
Lesson learned from working in rural communities
- Women are crucial in society
- Women play key roles and have key responsibilities
- Women are highly skilled
- Women aspire to the same ideals as everyone else
- Women need partners and funding to help them reach their potential
Captain Beatrice Ayabagabo, Training and Education Officer, The Salvation Army Rwanda Training College
Captain Beatrice Ayabagabo shared stories from working in rural Rwanda and Kenya. She shared how women in rural areas work hard. They know how to build good relationships and are good counsellors.
Captain Beatrice spoke of the strength of the women in Rwanda. After the Rwandan genocide many men were imprisoned but their wives took over the family responsibilities an even walked many miles a day to bring their husbands food in prison.
In rural Kenya The Salvation Army runs a programme called WORTH where women are taught how to read and write, given savings training and taught to run their own business. Groups of 20-30 women meet weekly to lean on each other for emotional support, financial contributions and accountability. Beatrice shared the stories of change from women who are involved in the WORTH programme. They no longer have to beg for money or sell themselves.
The meeting closed with a discussion of what we can all do to help empower women. Some ideas which were mentioned included supporting children’s education, mentoring young girls, helping a community with something they need (e.g., access to water). The importance of empowering families, and communities was also noted. Empowering parents helps empower children and give them opportunities. If you educate the parents they will understand the how the child earns and encourage their learning.