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Integrity got me here (A story of Dorcica Uwingabire)

My name is Dorcica Uwingabire, 35. I am a community mobilizer in Every Voice Counts (EVC) Program. I

am married and a mother of two children, a daughter of 11 and a son of 7. I live in Kabande Village, Rukoma Sector, Kamonyi District where EVC program operates. I was elected by the people among all other residents of this area to represent them in the EVC programme. The most important activity that we do is to be mediators especially during family conflicts and we share women empowering ideas during the Akagoroba k’ababyeyi.

Sometimes, the local residents are not even aware of the laws that protect them. We explain to them about the types of violence so they can be able to recognize them when they occur. We ensure that when they come to us, we connect them with the authorities in charge because sometimes, they don’t even know who to go to.

When I joined EVC, the first training I was invited in was about the types of violence, gender equality and equity, characteristics of a good leader and so many other topics.

One of the examples of cases where I intervened was a family that had denied medical treatment to their child just because she was a girl. She is epileptic and the father had said that he will never pay for the medical bill or take her to the clinic. I had to get the support from the cell executive secretary and go to visit that family before the father accepts that option. Now, the young girl is on treatment.

There are also a good number of family conflicts that I tried to solve in collaboration with local authorities. And when people are resistant, we make reports for the higher authorities so they can to help us.

One of the biggest changes I noticed is that before victims of gender-based violence had to pay a fee and queue at the local health facility. We have advocated for that, once these people reach any health facility, they are given a priority care since some signs of GBV can disappear after a certain period. Now people understand that every time, they are victims of gender-based violence, the nurses will be ready to receive and treat them.

They also know that the first thing to do after a GBV case is to go immediately to the health facility, while before they would feel that they have to first take a shower and wear nice and formal clothes. And that’s one important outcome of the advocacy initiated by PRO-FEMMES – TWESE HAMWE. That also had a bigger impact on the lives of women. They are more open to new initiatives beyond talking about GBV, and most of them have started creating cooperatives and join other community members in all events. They are also becoming more financially independent.

Because my entire life, I have displayed the value of integrity, people selected me as their representative, before even PRO-FEMMES – TWESE HAMWE reached out to me. The fact that I am a young woman does not constitute any barrier to my engagement, even older citizen come to me when they have issues.

This program has also empowered me in terms of knowledge especially around the understanding of GBV. Moreover, my husband is very supportive, every time when I have to intervene even during the night hours, he allows me to fulfill that duty without any form of retaliation. And we are very happy to represent our community and keep empowering them.

One of the key learning that is also a form of advice is that people have to be patient with each other and they have to be humble. Humility allows effective communication and allows to reach a common understanding as a couple. GBV was our main focus but now we are also focusing on teen mothers so they do not isolate themselves from society. We have formed a Football Team for young girls and it offers a platform for the girls to express themselves but also it allows us to teach them certain values.
Dorcica with her family