Building stability at home and in the community: Karoli’s Story
Karoli, a father of seven, lives in Kigugu village in Nyamasheke district, Rwanda. Prior to being involved with the Creating off-farm Rwandan enterprises (CORE) project, Karoli had very hostile relationships with his family and neighbours.
His relationship with his wife was typified by disagreements and fights due to his argumentative and short-tempered personality. These issues extended into the community.
Karoli lacked focus and motivation to improve both his family’s future and that of his village. During a well-attended community meeting, Karoli was endorsed by his community to attend gender equity dialogue sessions as part of the CORE project from International Alert Rwanda. While attending these sessions, he was exposed to how harmful behaviours can lead to family conflict. Karoli also took part in trainings to develop skills in effective communication, equal distribution of household work and conflict resolution.
The trainings were a turning point in Karoli’s life. He gradually built confidence in himself and realised the need to be respectful, cool tempered, a good listener and a team player in family affairs and in supporting his community.
“I thought a man is someone who spends more time in the bar, drinking and socialising. I used to think a wife’s place is in the house – someone who takes care of me and my children. Sharing household work and making decisions together with my partner never crossed my mind as an important element in marriage,” Karoli said.
Couples dialogue is also available through the CORE project. In these sessions both partners discuss ways to improve household finances, communication, joint decision making, conflict resolution and household unity. This allowed Karoli and his wife Laurence, along with their seven children, to learn and share experiences on how to handle household issues.
“Karoli has changed. He no longer drinks alcohol neither does he beat his wife. The children celebrate their father’s positive change and as the neighbours we are excited that Karoli is a changed man,” a neighbour tells us.
Karoli’s outlook and behaviour change has resulted in improved relationships, greater appreciation, more respect, and increased leadership roles in the community. Karoli has become more committed to helping to mobilise other men to understand the importance of supporting and working as a team with the women in their lives.
He continues to work on his relationships at home, recognising that respecting his wife and children is not only the key to their own success but a step towards bringing greater stability within the community. His family and young people in the community have taken notice and all speak positively about Karoli’s transformation.
About the project
Through training and dialogue sessions, business is being leveraged to adopt conflict and gender sensitive practices. It is also used to collectively influence post conflict development policies and practices for more inclusive and sustainable development within communities and to end violence and gender issues facing women and youth cross-border traders. Conflict hampers trade and socio-economic development but peace does the opposite.
The CORE project aims to support women and youth run cooperatives and help them build off-farm entrepreneurship skills so that they increase their opportunities to make a living and keep their families safe.
It also links participants with long-term business mentors to support them to grow and sustain their enterprises. The project strengthens the environment for the successful management of cooperatives and business groups run by women and youth cooperatives through dialogue, research and advocacy. It also helps these entrepreneurs to access financial services in order to invest in their businesses.