“My plan was to apply for a job at the Congo Peace School, but I realized that priority would be given to those with an education. So I enrolled in Action Kivu’s Literacy Program.” Pascaline, 18 years old, was only able to attend school through the 3rd grade. Learning to read and write through Action Kivu’s adult Literacy Program, Pascaline wants more, to go beyond what we currently offer, and get the equivalent of a GED, to have an official certification that she has the education of a high school graduate, to be able to apply for good jobs, and possibly attend university.
We love Pascaline’s vision and determination. While DRC *does* have remedial education programs where a student who did not attend school can combine all six grades of primary school into three years, and then all six grades of secondary school in three years, these, like other schools in Congo, are not funded by the government, and Pascaline cannot afford six years of school to get her diploma. As we seek full funding for the Congo Peace School, we look to include the remedial classrooms as “night school” in the future.
Scroll through our site to learn more about how everything we do is based in education, from educating communities in human rights and equality to preventing HIV/AIDS to organic farming.
Everything we do through your support of Action Kivu is grounded in education – education about equality and human rights that is taught and practiced, education in the new classrooms of the Congo Peace School, daily lessons on the sewing machines or at the blackboard in the Literacy class, or in the dirt of the organic farm, an open-air classroom that is teaching sustainable, healthy food-growing practices.
It was an honor to meet one of our graduates in her own new classroom, her sewing studio, where, with the profits from her new business, she was able to invest in a second Singer sewing machine, and charge for lessons for a young high school graduate who plans to study fashion. Meet Bahati, who graduated Action Kivu’s Sewing Workshop last year, in the class of 2017. Only 28, Bahati is the sole provider for six children, three of her own, and three of her husband’s, who recently passed away. Bahati, who was forced to quit school one year before graduating secondary school, knows the importance of an education, and uses the profits from her sewing business to send her children to school.
Bahati has a message for you, the supporters who made it possible for her to learn a new trade and skill, and start her business with a sewing machine. Click on the video below, or here, to hear from her.
Invest in education and equality today! Click here to give a one-time or monthly donation.
We hear this story over and over from the sewing students and recent alumni – how being a part of a community, learning marketable skills, and embracing their equality as women is opening new doors for hope, for planning for the future. Sara, whose father died in the conflict, only attended school through grade 5 of elementary, as her mother couldn’t afford the fees. Now 20 and a mother to a three-year-old, Sara lives at the Teen Mother’s Center, supported by Jewish World Watch and their partnership with Amani’s work, and is a part of the Sewing Workshop, Class of 2018, thanks to our Action Kivu family of donors. Hope has been restored through living in community with the other teen mothers, and in her sisterhood of sewing students and the graduates who are modeling the way to earning income and creating a new life.
“Being here has taken me out of danger,” Sara told us. “Being with others has helped me balance my thoughts and feelings,” Sara told us. She had been desperate, but now, “living with others in community gives me hope, I can focus on tomorrow.”
This is a marked difference from when we began Action Kivu. On a visit to Congo in 2011, when we asked the first cohorts of students in the Sewing Workshop what they hoped to do with their new machine and skills, the question was often met with silence. Action Kivu’s Founding Director Amani Matabaro paused in his translation, and explained, for most of these girls and women, they do not know how to hope for the future. They need to focus on survival for today: how will they feed their children? Will they be safe tonight?
Your investment in Action Kivu’s community building work is changing lives, opening the door for the women and girls to step through with their brilliance and determination, bringing back hope and planning for a brighter future for themselves and their children.
The impact of your support is palpable in Congo. It is seen in the smiles of the women as they work. It is heard in their voices as they share their stories, hopes, and plans with ease. Please share these stories with others in your community, to help us continue to provide opportunities for peace and hope to flourish!
The Congo Peace School opens its doors on Monday, September 3rd! This month, our Founding Director Amani Matabaro trained the teachers and many of the students in some of the practices of nonviolence and peace.
We’ve posted a video and more photos that are accessible when you support the school via our Patreon page for as little as $3 per month! That’s less than a morning latte in most places – can you commit to being a Congo Peace School patron today? Each month you will receive an exclusive video update from the school. www.patreon.com/
Photo credit: Tony Mancilla
Meeting Justine today, it might be hard to tell that she felt scared on her first day at Action Kivu’s Sewing Workshop, not knowing what to expect, how to operate a foot-pedal sewing machine. Today she is confident, talking about her plans to start her own business, how she became the matriarch of her family when her mother spent six months in the hospital for a hip problem and her father could not find work.
Justine’s parents decided that each of their children should complete elementary school, to be able to read and write, so Justine, now 22, finished 6th grade, but was unable to begin secondary school, in order for her younger siblings to get a basic education. Enrolling in the Sewing Workshop and already earning money from clients in her village, Justine now helps pay the school fees for her siblings. “People ask me to make something, and I bring it here,” she says, gesturing to the Mumosho Women’s Center, “and my colleagues, my fellow students, help me.”
“I’ve seen how working in community makes a difference,” Justine says. “Learning sewing skills, I’ve become part of a family. I know how to sew now, but I’m still learning. We work together on orders, learn from each other. That’s community for me.”
“I like the word,” Justine replied when asked what the word equality means for her. “It means no discrimination. I still feel like men are getting many more chances, and that’s not equality. When I come here, I feel safe, and equal.”
When asked about sharing what she’s learning about women’s rights and equality, Justine’s face lights up. “I always share what I’m learning about equality with the people in my village,” she says. “And when I get a sewing machine at graduation, I have a plan. My head is full of skills now. I already help my family, I help buy food and medicine. My mom spent six months in the hospital with a hip problem, and my father has no job, so I took over.
“I have to do it, but I am not afraid. I feel like when I am successful, I can lift up the entire of Congo in my hands.”
In addition to learning the traditional curriculum skills, Justine has joined the alumni group learning to make men’s fashion as well. “I want to be able to do it all!” she says.
Thinking about her community, and Congo, “the need is huge. There are many other young girls who could not attend school, who need a program like this. Wherever I go, I am not afraid. I can work, I am empowered.”
“I want to continue to thank and pray for the people who support this program, it is changing lives.”
Thanks to your support, girls and women like Justine are discovering the power that they hold, and teaching others. Read more about the alumni and current students here, and please consider a donation today to invest in this life-changing work!