Agwata Women Tackle Issues of Shelter, Violence and Drinking

Our Agwata group is divided into 5 clusters of about 18 women each.  Because their huts are widely scattered throughout the village area which spreads to over 6 km from one side to the other, the women have grouped themselves into clusters based on their geographic location.  We have spent much time with the women talking about how they need to both take charge of their lives and move forward, but also how they need to look out and care for each other as a group, and to encourage one another when they face difficulties.

In August, the Agwata women leaders directed each cluster to visit all members’ huts and determine the status of their households and living conditions, and pinpoint issues their members were facing.  Each cluster presented their verbal reports when we visited them at the end of January.  These reports sparked much discussion within the group.

They identified that the women had made much progress in building adequate shelters and expanding their compounds.  They noted that especially elderly widows  in the village were struggling and facing difficulties if there were no immediate family members to assist them.  Physical violence was noted in some households but it had declined from previous years.  They noted that it often seemed to be related to drinking by household members.  Drinking also caused a reduction in work, and diverted the household’s meager resources toward buying alcohol.  Only a very few members did not have adequate huts to live in.  The clusters wrestled with ideas on how they might help those who were facing difficulties.

As a continuation of trying to help the group be responsible for themselves and show good leadership, each cluster was charged with the task of determining who would receive some knitted shawls that had been donated by the U.S. nonprofit, Women-4-Women Knitting for Peace.  Each cluster had enough shawls for only 50% of their members.  We were encouraged by what we saw.  The clusters discussed with each other and seemed in the end to give priority to the elderly women and pregnant women.  Here are some photos of the meetings and of the shawl distribution.

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