Robin and Hilary Butler of Bowen Island, British Columbia, initially discovered and became involved with The Komera Project for one simple reason: their daughter founded the organization. They visited Margaret in Rwanda several years ago while she was working for Partners in Health and The Clinton Foundation in Rwinkwavu. Starting in South Africa, they traveled north to see what Margaret, Paul Farmer and the rest of the team was up to. As such, the Butlers’ involvement with Komera began when the organization was simply an annual Girls’ Fun Run in Rwanda, and they “naturally grew into it as it grew.”
For the past two years Robin and Hilary have organized a run to coincide with their island’s end-of-summer festival. This year, however, Bowen Island will host two runs: an informal one on June 19 with friends and neighbors to coincide with their daughter’s trip to Rwanda for the Komera Global Run, plus their larger annual Rotary Run for Rwanda on August 24. Although their June 19 run will mainly serve as an introduction to the larger Bowen Island event, the Butlers believe that the Komera Global Run is a great idea that unites Komera supporters around the world. As Robin eloquently stated, “The sun never sets on Komera.”
They believe that girls’ education, health and empowerment are important issues for three reasons. First, because “the evidence is in.” Educating girls reduces early pregnancy and the difficulties that accompany it. Secondly, the education girls receive is given back to the rest of the family, therefore lifting their entire family. And thirdly, on a humanitarian ground, girls are the most oppressed, under-utilized segment of the population. Particularly in countries like Rwanda with a high rate of poverty, but indeed everywhere, giving girls the opportunity to attend school lifts the entire community around them.
And this is what The Komera Project aims to accomplish: giving girls the opportunity of education to lift themselves and their families from poverty while creating a global network of young leaders. This “constructive good” is what makes the Butlers so proud of Komera and hopeful for its work in the future.
If you would like to sponsor the Komera Global Run on June 19th you can make a donation here!Categories: Blog, Events, Komera Global Run 2013, News
By David Boehmer, May 12th 2013
When I look at a girl, no matter if she is in New York City or Rwinkwavu, I see potential. I see someone with curiosity, with love, with energy and with passion. I see someone who has the opportunity to change the community, country and world around her. I see someone who if only given the right support – through education, training, love and encouragement – can make our world a better one – for girls and boys.
Growing up, my mother always stressed education. She was a parent, a friend and a tutor. I remember my first failed science project and my mother sitting me down at her drafting desk and us building new charts and diagrams of various types of leaves and their scientific names. In later years as my sister and I thought about our future, it was always about following our dreams and realizing every potential we had. My mother did not have an easy path – she went back to school in her late 30s while supporting two children who saw nothing but love and happiness; she broke ceilings in a profession where ceilings were not made of glass but of concrete.
My mother raised me to not only respect women, but have my passion in life be to ensure all girls have the opportunity to break through their own ceilings and beyond. I am adamant about the absolutely necessary movement to finally and fully create opportunity and potential for every girl in this world. Every girl, teenager and woman has the potential to accomplish amazing things and transform others towards their own goals. Whether they be mothers who raise sons and daughters to love as they were loved, or leaders in their community who drive moments for change, women are the key to our future. This is why I am passionate about the work that I do with the Komera Project.
On this wonderful day to give thanks to our mothers, thank you mom. And thank you all for your continued support to Komera, to your own sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, and to all of those who need our support to ensure they too can exceed their wildest dreams.Blog, Events, News
On my daily run I find peace and balance. It’s where I make sense of the world, it’s my confidence, it’s how I explore and it’s part of my fabric as a human being.
In 2007 I found myself running through the remote villages of Rwanda. After a lifetime of running during my travels around the world, I had finally found my ultimate race. I was in my element running through fields, spotting monkeys, racing bikes and being cheered along the way by young kids shouting “Komera, Komera!”–”Be strong and courageous” was what they were saying to me, be strong and courageous.
I often had young boys running with me but rarely young girls. They were found at the outskirts watching, and I could see that they wanted to join but weren’t sure how. I wanted to do something; I wanted those young girls who were too shy, too embarrassed or felt that it was inappropriate to hear people cheering for them, “Komera, Komera!”–be strong and courageous. With the help of the Partners In Health social workers, we decided that we would host Rwinkwavu’s first ever girls-only fun run. In 2008 we had 400 young women come out and participate, being cheered on by young boys and the local community; they were celebrated as chants of “Komera!” could be heard throughout the village.
Five years later and we are still running strong. We have 75 young women on scholarship and programs that focus on social entrepreneurship, leadership development and global connectivity in addition to our annual girls’ fun run. We also work with students in North America, inspiring them to be both local and global agents of change. Komera is a global leadership incubator for young women dedicated to building an international network of community leaders. We use running as a tool to inspire, unify and connect people around the world.
This year we will host our fifth girls’ fun run in Rwanda, and we are asking our friends around the world to participate. Running connects us, it motivates us and it inspires us to take action. We hope that you will take this inspiration and join us in your community for the Komera Global Run on June 19. We are asking our friends around the world to be strong and courageous and run in solidarity with us as we run with the Komera Scholars in Rwanda. All we ask is that you sign up here and tell us about your run–our goal is to get 1,000 people running. Will you run with us?Categories: Blog, Stories
Girls design ideas to fight hunger, child abuse
In partnership with Global Grassroots and Partners In Health, we were able to deliver a conscious leadership and social entrepreneurship curriculum to 70 vulnerable high school girls over November and December. Of these, 57 girls are Komera Scholars, and the remaining 13 girls were extended a special invitation through a recommendation from Partners In Health. Many of our participants are the heads of their child-headed households, some are teenage mothers, and others are HIV+. Yet all were engaged and extremely enthusiastic about becoming change agents to fight issues of importance to them in their communities. The scholars have formed six teams and will be working over the next year to advance the following self-designed solutions:
Brave People: 18 Team members
Issue: Street Children
Mission: To reduce the number of street children, ages 8-14, by educating them in performances using songs, plays and poems which mobilize these children to leave their street life, so that we can bring them back to school and to their families. We will target them where they sleep at night.
Invincible: 5 Team Members.
Mission: To reduce hunger in Mbarara by increasing productivity by raising domesticated animals that will provide fertilizers, and by training people on how to use fertilizers; so that we can improve the fertility of the soil in our community. We are planning to provide pigs to four families in Mbarara so that they can have fertilizer for their land. We will also train them on watering plants, so that they can improve the productivity, and teach them to use anti-erosion techniques while cultivating. After a year, the offspring of these pigs will be given to 10 more families.
New Life: 17 Members
Mission: To fight overpopulation by providing 400 people with trainings on family planning, performing educational plays, songs and poems that show the public the bad effects of overpopulation and mobilizing people to use family planning.
Hard Workers: 9 Members
Issue: Violence Against Women and Girls
Mission: To reduce poverty among women and girls in our community by fighting their lack of self-confidence. We will provide 30 women with trainings about using their assets like embroidering, and waving basket, etc. and train them in doing small income generating projects that do not require a big investment. We believe that women and girls who are poor will not be vulnerable to abusive relationships and cannot turn to bad professions such as prostitution to look for money if they are self-confident and have leaned skills like waving baskets.
Step Forward: 9 Members
Issue: Child Abuse
Mission: To reduce domestic violence faced by children, ages 7-20, by conducting trainings among 300 parents in the villages of Mukoyoyo, so that we can reduce the ignorance of child rights. We want to see children going back to school among those who dropped out of school. Also, for those children who are overworked (which means that children do a lot of work beyond their strength) we want to see that they are no longer overworked, and that children receive health insurance. We want to see that people who abuse children’s rights are punished seriously, and we will be reporting them to local leaders in charge
Withstand: 12 Members
Issue: Lack of day care centers that result in children under age 7 playing on the streets and getting into accidents
Mission: To solve the problem of lack of day care centers by training parents and local leaders about the importance of these centers, and to build and register pre-school aged children in those centers.
Categories: Blog, Stories