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12. April 2005Dear Women without Borders!

The New Year started with new challenges. We manage projects in current and already forgotten regions of crisis: In Rwanda, where 11 ago the whole world looked deedless at the systematically organised genocide; in South India, where the Tsunami catastrophe hit quiet and peaceful fishing villages. And one country in the middle: Iraq, not forgotten, but displaced.
In all three countries we work together with competent and convinced partners who will coordinate the projects on site.
Women always have a special role in situations of crisis: on the one hand they are victims, but at the same time they act as brave motors for redirection and restart. In the regions worst hit by the Tsunami women always managed businesses, but were never economically independent. Domestic violence and alcohol often made their lives a misery. During our stay in Tamil Nadu/South India the women in the villages told us their sorrows and hopes open hearted. The catastrophe is also a chance for a restart, which can only be a start in a new future if women have the possibility to rebuild and shape their communities.
The journey to Rwanda changed our view of the term “survivors”. They continue living, but as victims of systematic rape, with the HIV virus, they continue living, often as the last surviving member of the family. Education of the female youth is the aim of a national campaign. The First Lady is travelling across the country together with ministers to award those girls who where the best in their classes. An exemplary encouragement strategy which we were able to witness in Butare. The Rwandan girls told us that they would love to play football. “Playing Football for Reconciliation” is a unique project where Hutu and Tutsi girls will play together.
The news from Iraq doesn’t give us an insight into the people’s everyday life. How is life for these women, who only can go to work under massive danger? How do young people spend their days, without any kind of normality? We are starting a unique research project which tries to answer these questions. It lies in the hands of all of us to shape our world, to make politics by intervening and advocacy. Together we are strong.

Edit Schlaffer and the Women without Borders team


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