Go Further, Together

March 8, 2023

Posted by Amanda, Director of Outreach

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In Duterimbere, a small village in Rwanda’s Jarama sector, Therese Nyandwi is a household name. A mother of six and a long-time leader at her Presbyterian church with her husband Bosco, Therese has become both a caregiver and a trendsetter in her community. Her reputation is why she was singled out by the Water Project to spearhead an innovative water, sanitation, and hygiene project in her church district last May.

To promote sustainable shifts in health and wellness, the Water Project utilizes Community-Based Environmental Health Promotion Programs (CBEHPP), which equip and empower volunteers like Therese to educate their neighbors on healthy practices such as water filtration, personal hygiene, and the like. Once mobilized, CBEHPP teams pass on their knowledge to other community leaders. Those leaders in turn educate new crops of neighbors, creating a positive domino effect throughout a region.

Therese and other members of her CBEHPP were proud to play a role in spreading awareness of good health practices across their village. But as they spoke with peers, it became clear that there were deeper needs at hand. In response to those needs, Therese and others launched the Twisungane Club (meaning “Let’s Come Together”).

This 50-member weekly group has a mission to equip Duterimbere with WASH knowledge and resources. The club began as a weekly gathering open to all who wished to join to discuss and share action steps for incorporating recommended WASH practices into daily life.

Soon, however, group leaders began to see that economic barriers kept members from taking these crucial action steps. Many people could not afford the materials required to construct latrine or build dish racks.

In response, Twisungane Club launched a savings initiative. Each week, members invest at least 20 cents. Then, the group uses the sum of invested money to grant low-interest loans to members in need. Over time, the money that each member invested would grow, helping build economic stability alongside WASH capacity.

To date, Therese and her fellow Twisungane Club members have contributed funds to build five dish racks, construct several latrines, and to purchase a host of other WASH necessities such as soap and tissues. At the same time, they have contributed to a deeper collective understanding of WASH principles throughout their village. This knowledge creates a foundation for lasting health and wholeness.

When asked about her achievements and leadership, however, Therese is quick to defer praise. “We would not have reached this far if any one of us were to do it alone. As a club, we have been able to go further, together.”

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