Thursday, January 31, 2013

Women, Hope and Water

Guest Blogger: Lacy Colley, Volunteer Photographer

Traveling to Uganda for the first time was more than an opportunity for us. It was about women, hope, and most importantly water. My sister Kirby, naturally one of my favorite women, was able to travel with me - literally packed on a bus like sardines for eight hours, a ferry across the Nile, and finally a boda boda (motorcycle taxi) to get us to our destination. Moyo town approximately has 25,000 people, and is located in Northern Uganda, close to the border of Sudan.

We arrived to Moyo alongside GWWI Uganda Team Coordinator Hajra “Comfort” Mukasa. Talk about a passionate woman! I knew she was ingenious with a sense of fire and punch. I asked her why she chose to be a WASH (Water, Hygiene and Sanitation) expert, and she replied proudly “It’s what I know, it’s what I believe in.” Could you imagine if we all felt this way about our careers?

Angella, Martha and Anastasia, the three leaders within GWWI Moyo, sat down with us when we arrived and gave us a little history on how they came together. In amazement, these grassroots women have accomplished many goals, from enrolling in WASH training programs to educating their community on the importance of sustainable clean water solutions. They also mobilized funding to buy an ISSB (interlocking stabilized soil block) machine that enables them to build these rainwater tanks, and they hope to soon build homes for families, and work outside their town of Moyo. Angella says all in all for them it is about working hard for where they are from and being together happily. 

Godliver Businge who heads up the GWWI training team with her technology expertise in engineering and construction, led everyone on the plan, and enabled every woman to be involved whether by plumbing bob measure, laying, or binding and leveling the bricks to ensure their strength.

After the first day of forming the bricks and laying the foundation for the tank, we were at the next stage of laying the bricks, binding them with mortar, and building the tank wall. By end of day the tank was up, 3 meters high, and ready for plastering, cleaning, roofing, piping, and finally the tap. We cheered, hugged, and stood proudly by the tank, our tank. As Godliver stated, this project is inspirational to her because it’s women coming together to complete such demanding manual labor. And in the Ugandan society, women work longer hours than the men, and bear the double burden of ensuring their households are cared for and fed adequately. To describe this project Godliver says it’s simply wholesome. An incredibly insightful word choice, as it truly represents the water project’s ability to promote health and support the well-being of the community. Wholesome ultimately describes the minds and hearts of the women behind the bricks. 

We had arrived to that moment, to be surrounded by truly powerful women that came from nothing, to let us in on their love. And by nothing I mean their community was destroyed in a war in 1979, and their lives were uprooted to Sudan, eight years later to return to Moyo that was demolished. They had to start over, and be stronger than ever, determined to help their community move forward. Their return, their ride was a lot more bumpy then ours to Moyo town to say the least. Reflecting at the end of our time in Uganda, the voices of the women resonate in our souls. We are one. We all wake to the same sun, close our eyes under the same stars, breathe the same air, and hope for the same dreams. One day, we will all drink the same water. 

For more pictures : click here

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Remembering Becky Tarbotton

Women's Earth Alliance joins the environmental community in mourning the passing and honoring the life of Rebecca Tarbotton, Rainforest Action Network's executive director, who died on December 26th in Mexico.

It is difficult to capture Becky's spirit in words.  Those who knew her, admired and adored her for her vivacious energy, her welcoming spirit, and her uncompromising approach to her work.  She was a true leader who met seemingly insurmountable environmental challenges head-on, and won.  "We're not the Rainforest Negotiation Network," she said, "we're the Rainforest Action Network."  This past year, under her leadership, RAN saw one of its biggest wins ever — getting the Disney Corporation to commit to eliminating the use of paper sourced from Indonesia's rainforests.

Becky's influence and presence as a woman leader on the world stage was grounded in her years of working alongside grassroots women organizing in places like Ladakh, India.  There, she supported a local women's farming alliance to grow its membership from 7 to 4,000.

Of that time, Becky said: “working with those women, helping them build alternatives to the western development model that was being imposed on their communities, was a foundational experience for me. It showed me that local wisdom is a powerful tool for change and that true solutions, when grounded in deep respect for cultural traditions, ecological wisdom and creativity can both improve quality of life and build a future where people live in harmony with nature.”

We at Women's Earth Alliance draw deep inspiration from these words, and from the wisdom and commitment they represent.  All of our hearts ache at the loss of this brilliant, dedicated, joyful woman.  We persist in our work with renewed commitment in 2013, so that we may contribute to the realization of Becky's dream of a peaceful and sustainable human existence on earth.

To make a donation to RAN in honor of Becky, visit RAN's website