Chantal Uwizera

Chantal Uwizera (Backward Society Education – BASE): Chantal was born in Rwanda and came to the US at a young age. Growing up in Rwanda and its tragic history gave her an acute sense of the importance of human rights. Chantal received her bachelor degree in Political Science and International Relations from the University of Indianapolis in 2006. Upon graduation, she worked with the Indiana local and state governments. At the time of her fellowship, she was pursuing her Masters at American University in the School of International Service in the International Peace and Conflict Resolution program with a special concentration on human rights advocacy and international litigation. After her fellowship Chantal wrote: “The experience reminded me to take time and just enjoy the people around you… [and] to see the human aspect of child labor.”

First week in the field

26 Jun

A week has passed since I have been in Nepal. I am now in Tulsipur where I will be living for the remainder of my time here. The organization that I am working with is called BASE (Backward Society Education). It is a grassroots people’s movement involving around 200,000 members. It is an organization that is ever growing in order to include other programs, all with the aim of promoting the education to marginalized communities. Their major focus and one of the programs that I will be closely working on is on the issue of spreading awareness and advocating for the ratification of child rights laws, especially in the movement to end child labor.

One of the most stellar attributes of BASE is that they advocate for a community-based approach to development and problem solving. For example, for their movement against child labor, they have recognized Child Friendly Villages (CFV) and BASE works with the families and children in those communities. This Child Friendly Villages model is a tool of changing communities into child laborer free societies by working to eliminate child labour practices and working towards having all the children attend school. It is quite an impressive program and in my opinion a way to empower the communities themselves in effecting change.

There are about 244 child friendly villages located in five districts: Dang, Banke, Bardiya, Kailali, Kanchapur.  BASE is involved in educating the parents about the children’s rights and the need for them to go to school. The model has been successful and in 2010, BASE annual report found that in those child friendly villages, school attendance increased by 64% (the number of children going to school in 2007 was 12,111 and in 2010 it was 22,269). The number of child laborers decreased by 59% in those villages (from 2093 in 2007 to 771 in 2010). One of BASE staff shared with me that in those villages, the communities (families and children) have agreed to all work together in order to end child laborer.

This week, I am joining another AP fellow, Maelanny Purwaningrum as we travel to Bardiya and Banke. The purpose for this visit is to further our work in producing love quilts with the children in those CFV as well a chance to interview some of the former child laborers. BASE is an amazing organization and all the staff have been very welcoming and willing to show us around and to explain to us all the different programs that they are working on. I hope to highlight in future blogs other programs that they are involved in.

Posted By Chantal Uwizera

Posted Jun 26th, 2011

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