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 neighbors. Within the household his relationship with his wife was typified by arguments, fights, and disagreements due to his argumentative and short-tempered personality. These prevailing characteristics extended beyond the household and 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. While attending these sessions, he was exposed to how harmful behaviors can lead to family conflict. Karoli also took part in trainings were he developed 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 be a team player to not only manage family affairs but play a part in supporting the community around him.
"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 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 fathers positive change and as the neighbors we are excited that Karoli is a changed man," a neighbor tells us.
As a result of Karoli’s outlook and behaviour change, he is experiencing improved relationships, greater appreciation, more respect, and increased leadership roles in the community. Karoli has become much more committed in helping to mobilise fellow men to understand the importance of supporting women and working as a team with women. 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 to Karoli’s transformation.