Tell us a little about yourself and what you do
I'm originally from South Carolina and went to school at Boston University. Three years ago I decided to relocate to London for grad school (an MA in Human Rights from University College London) and have been here ever since. I have been at Network for Africa for about a year and a half. There are only three of us at Network for Africa -- Annabel Harris, our CEO; Sophie McCann, our executive director; and me (my official title is Programme and Research Officer). Because we're such a small staff, we all do a bit of everything. My main role is to support Sophie and Annabel, especially with grant proposals and grant management. I particularly enjoy the research and project development aspects of my role, which I do in conjunction with Annabel and Sophie. I am also in charge of social media, newsletters, administrative tasks, managing interns etc.
Tell us about Network for Africa and what it supports
Network for Africa was founded in 2008 and supports projects in northern Uganda and Rwanda. Specifically, we support communities as they rebuild after conflict (in northern Uganda, the 20+ year civil war between Joseph Kony's LRA and the Ugandan government; in Rwanda, the 1994 genocide). In Patongo, northern Uganda, where 98% of our beneficiaries lost family members during the civil war, we have helped the Patongo Counselling Community Outreach (PCCO) establish a trauma counselling network by training local people to provide counselling. There are now 28 outreach groups at PCCO, each made up of about 30 people and led by a counsellor. The groups meet once a week to discuss various problems in people's lives and in the community (lately, the two big issues have been sexual and gender based violence and alcoholism, which are rife in Patongo). We also support a few other, smaller projects in Patongo. Ribbe Aye Teko is a group of 53 vulnerable women (widows, orphans, women living with HIV, single mothers) to develop sustainable agricultural livelihoods. In addition to making money to support themselves, these women have formed a strong support network. We also support the Lioness Fund, which sponsors 9 former child soldiers (mostly girls) to finish their education.
In Rwanda, we are supporting Aspire, who provide a holistic three-year training programme for women. The original Aspire programme was started in Gisozi, one of the poorest sectors of the capital city, Kigali, and supports 50 of the poorest women in the district each year. The first year of Aspire is the most intensive and includes regular classes in income generating skills (in Gisozi, the women learn hairdressing and cookery, which are both sustainable skills that are easy for the women to do), literacy and numeracy, rights training (inheritance rights, laws against domestic violence), health training (hygiene, nutrition, HIV testing) and childcare (women bring their pre-school children to the childcare centre for free so that they can focus on their work). During the first year, the women form a cooperative and in the second and third year of Aspire, they work in that cooperative to support each other and earn money. This year, with a grant from the UK Department for International Development, Aspire replicated this project in rural Rutunga (about an hour's drive from Kigali). The project is the same as Aspire in Gisozi, except that 150 women are supported each year (rather than 50) and they learn sustainable agriculture rather than hairdressing and cookery (it's much more appropriate for the setting).
We also support the Rwanda Multi Learning Centre, where genocide orphans can learn English and IT free of charge. The students also get psychosocial support from each other and staff. Students are offered music classes at the Learning Centre, and some have said they find these classes therapeutic when coping with their trauma and stress.
What do you like about &peace, and why did you start using it?
I love the &Peace button because it gives me a chance to support causes that I'm passionate about. Whenever I read an article about something I care about, whether it's genocide in Sudan or climate change affecting farmers in Bangladesh, I know that with the &Peace button I can make a tiny difference. Using the &Peace button leaves me feeling like I am part of a larger global community.
How has &peace helped your organisation so far?
We haven't made tons of money from &Peace; however I can say that using &Peace is an easy, labour-free way to make money for our charity, which is a great opportunity since we are so small and have no spare time.