Refilwe Moahi

Refilwe was born and raised in Botswana. Prior to her fellowship, she completed her MA in Sustainable International Development at Brandeis University’s Heller School of Social Policy and Management. Most recently, she worked with Oxfam America in Boston as Campaigns Organizing Fellow supporting legislative and corporate campaigns that focus on international food justice, food security, economic inequality, and issues of transparency in the extractive industries. Prior to that, she worked with the Andando Foundation in rural Senegal, where she fell in love with West Africa, managing micro development programs on food and water security and income generation that directly benefit women and children. She also worked with the Government of Botswana’s Department of Women’s Affairs supporting women’s small enterprises and raising awareness about gender-based violence and HIV/AIDS. She also holds a BA in Politics & International Relations and French Studies from Scripps College.



Peace Fellow Training, Camel Soap, and Ali Farka Touré

02 Jun

In just three days I will arrive in Bamako, the capital city of Mali. I am both excited and extremely nervous about what awaits me. Moreover, I am relieved—my mother especially so—to have safe housing and other logistical matters nearly figured out. I will stay at the infamous Sleeping Camel for my first few nights, and I will go and see two rooms in a house with other expats in Bamako.

Even more relieving, I finally have my visa (which was lost in the Mali embassy for a fortnight, meaning I did not have an accepted form of identification). I have also met the director of Sini Sanuman (and he understood my French!) and he will meet me at the airport.

On the Advocacy Project side, I am glad to have survived an intense week of training and to have a clearer idea of what to expect and of what is expected of me. On the other hand, I have also been experiencing an existential crisis of sorts with graduation and people close to me all going in their different directions. And, although I could not dream of embarking on a different journey than this one, new chapters are always bittersweet.

In Bamako, I will be working with community-based organization Sini Sanuman, which translates into Healthy Tomorrow in Bambara. My main responsibilities will include helping the NGO to be more organized in their collecting receipts, using excel, donor reporting, and producing a funding proposal for next year, as well as potentially improving their website and social media presence, producing a promotional video, and finding a larger market for the soap produced by the project’s beneficiaries – there has been talk of camel brand.

Originally formed to fight female genital mutilation, Sini Sanuman’s main work focuses on economic empowerment and psychosocial support of female survivors of armed sexual violence. Sini Sanuman accomplishes this through training women in soap making, clothes making, and embroidery and to sell these items in local markets. Sini Sanuman also has a team of animators (not the drawing kind; it loses something in translation), who go out into the community to raise awareness about armed sexual violence and to recruit women to participate in their trainings.

This is the second year of the Advocacy Project’s partnership with Sini Sanuman and the first year of the project in full swing. It will be a very important and challenging seven months. I will have to hit the ground running in order to produce a report with the Sini Sanuman about the first two months of the project. It will also give me the chance to learn about the team and how the project is going so far. I am excited to offer what I can, but I know I will always learn more than what I can give. I am also looking forward to learning more about Malian music and culture; Ali Farka Touré has been on my playlist for the past couple months. It will be an exciting and rewarding seven months. Stay tuned for the adventure!

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Posted By Refilwe Moahi

Posted Jun 2nd, 2015

3 Comments

  • Kathy

    June 10, 2015

     

    Dear Refilwe,
    I hope you are liking Bamako and you are assimilating smoothly. Good luck with Sini Sanuman, I am sure you will be a great asset to the organization. Cannot wait to hear more about your exciting adventures.

  • Annika

    June 25, 2015

     

    It will be fascinating to see how The Advocacy Project’s partnership with Sini Sanuman develops in its second year, especially in your work helping to create the report and submit the funding proposal. Sini Sanuman’s method of combating sexual violence through economic empowerment is so important! It reminds me how much of what we often call human rights work is truly about empowering people to provide for themselves and their families sustainably and respectfully.

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