“I didn’t want to wait, so I asked others to join me in listening to our families and decide how we can meet their needs.” – Muteteri Charlotte, PICO Rwanda Nyarubuye leader
After participating in a national leadership training session last December, Muteteri Charlotte, a leader from Nyarubuye, organized leaders in her community to conduct more than 350 1-1s meetings with their neighbors this spring. The purpose of their listening campaign was to identify the next issue they will tackle after building a health clinic that now serves 17,000 families. The need for water service and schools are named as priorities. Charlotte’s leadership is emblematic of how ordinary Rwandans are not waiting for others to meet critical needs, but organizing their own resources to leverage government support to build clinics and schools, provide water and electricity, and start local businesses. They are using organizing tools to transform their communities and model grassroots participation in Rwandan society.
The success of organizing in Rwanda has led faith leaders in Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and Namibia to invite Pastor John Rutsinditwarane and Fr. Innocent Rugaragu to share Faith in Action’s organizing approach. In August, Faith in Action and the FAITH in Ghana Alliance are holding a three-day leadership training retreat in Tamale, Ghana for 100 local Muslim, Mainline Protestant, Pentacostal and Charismatic, and Catholic religious leaders. This event is designed to kick-off a listening process within local communities in eight regions in Ghana. In June, Pastor Kelvin Sauls, Pastor Rutsindintwarane and Gordon Whitman travelled to South Africa and Namibia to engage faith leaders in conversation about grassroots organizing. Over the course of three weeks, they met with bishops, clergy, seminarians, university students, and organizations working to address the poverty in their communities. Pastor John and Fr. Innocent have made similar exploratory trips to Tanzania and Kenya at the invitation of religious and civic leaders in those countries.
Small seeds of organizing in Rwanda are spreading to many places in Africa.