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Community mobilization aims at ownership

The activists say that it is more than just assembling people or pulling their resources together to bring change. It is about delivering the right change at the right time, while creating a sense of ownership.In recent years worldwide people have been working hard to bring change for the better living conditions of all the people including those who face various forms of injustices. In places where domestic violence and other human rights violations have prevailed, there have been international as well as national efforts to influence people to stop violence.

Recently when talking to one of the founder of "We Can" campaign in the country, he told me that the only way to influence these changes is by using the bottom-top approach. This is a great achievement for the members of the "We Can" campaign all over the country especially during this year's International Women Day.

The idea of community mobilization is to make community members support one anther. This leads to achieving "We Can" campaigns. Tanzania has recorded immense success in the "We can" campaign that was launched in the country in 2008 and has spread to several regions.

The campaign is tailored to prevent all sorts of societal vices including brutality and violation of human rights. The campaign initially made its emergence in eastern Asia, mainly in Bangladesh, India and Sri lanka.According to the Manager of "We Can" Campaign Ms Solomoni Rahabu by the end of this second phase campaign which comes to an end in 2013, there will be 500,000 change makers and it is expected that every one of them will have been able to recruit four members. She said, therefore, there was no doubt that the "We Can" Campaign will have achieved its goal of recruiting 1.6 million change makers come 2013.

Some 10 change makers in Kwimba district who were registered in the first campaign were present during the international Women's Day festivities held in the district.This was a great achievement given that there is that commitment to link International Women's Day with "We Can" campaign.Another good  example is that of  Mr Maghembe Nyashiru who is a father of four. He bears witness that "We Can" campaign has had an immense positive impact on his life and family. He lives in Mahina Ward, Nyamagana District in Mwanza region.

Speaking from Mwanza by telephone, he said to me that male dominance environment which he grew up  has been behind his negative attitude against women that he has today abandoned.He narrates that in the past he did not see the reason why he should listen to a woman. He confessed that he never allowed his wife to comment on anything.

He said that the Change Makers in his area were committed to help him change. I was taken gradually through psychological process of learning the implications of domestic violence in all its forms."It took me two years to unlearn those violations that most of the time I took them for granted," he said.

When I started changing it was like: "My wife take everything out from the house and let me help you to clean the rooms.""My wife could not believe she started saying what a change in your life and I was so happy to hear such a thing," he said.Another thing that influenced him to change was after understanding the effects and implications of infringement of human rights. But as usual some members of the community started defining this change to love medicine that they claimed his wife had bewitched him.

After going through a nasty experience of disunity and lack of harmony in the family because of my own violence, I have started realizing the fruits of being fair to my family," he remarked.He said he has two daughters and sons and now he has seen one of his son taking a frontline role to defend the rights of women, sharing equally with his father the need for women to be treated with respect and end all forms of domestic violence on women.

One of the testimonies given by his wife is that now she has been living in harmony with his husband. She told the 'Sunday News' that "We Can" Campaign has been a fixer to many women's long standing problems. But one major achievement is that it has given women voices in their own home.she further said that today when her husband earns or sells produce they sit together with their children to plan how to utilize their income."We can budget and find that we have a lot to save for our children," said Mr Nyashiru.

Such testimonies which continue to be reported are a proof of the success of this global campaign which continues to spread its gospel all over the country.As a matter of fact without sharing these testimonies it will be difficult for others who want to try experiencing the advantages of ending violence in homes and other places to appreciate the "We Can" campaign.

The fact that every change maker is required to at least influence 4 people to change personally and effect changes to others in relation to fighting domestic violence tells it all. Mr Nyashiru said that he as a change maker is aware of the four types of gender based violence. These are physical violence, economic violence, sexual violence and psychological violence. Of course this is more than just change, it is indeed ownership.



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