12 years old, Bukuze is looking forward to her last year in elementary school this fall before she starts high school in 2018. She loves learning French, and doesn’t mind the 45 minute walk to school from where she lives with her uncle’s family, because she is determined to be a teacher.
Bukuze knows about the U.S. because of the good people here who are investing in her education, and wants the people of the U.S. and the world to know that Congo needs peace, not war.
In “Stolen Childhoods,” Save the Children reports that one in every four children, at least 700 million children worldwide, have had the promise of a full childhood brought to an early end. “The reasons vary from extreme violence and conflict, often driving families from their homes; early marriage and pregnancy; child labor; poor health; malnutrition and food insecurity; and not having the chance to go to school.” The Democratic Republic of Congo, where Action Kivu invests in the communities of eastern Congo, ranks 162nd, the 11th in the worst of the world.
We see so many of these children where we work in Mumosho, kids denied an education because of poverty, malnutrition and child labor in families desperate to survive the day. In response to these horrifying facts, we offer educational assistance, with the plan to open the first Congo Peace School (more on that soon), we invest in the lives of the mothers, providing vocational training and job skills to earn the income to break the cycle of extreme poverty, and a playground space for kids to be kids.
Join the movement! Learn more about Action Kivu, and consider donating monthly: we need your support to sustain and grow our programs investing in the kids of Congo.
The weather gifted the kids of Congo with a dry day in the midst of rainy season this Christmas Eve, and our Action Kivu family of donors gifted the kids with shoes, clothes, and a holiday meal of rice, beans, and a banana. The kids send their wishes for our beloved community to have a Merry Christmas, a happy New Year, and wish for the Congolese people a new year of stability and new hope.
Borauzima, pictured above, is the only of her family of 7 kids who is able to attend school. In the 4th grade of primary school, she is always at the top of her class, and dreams of teaching French as a university professor. When she learned what her tee-shirt says, she smiled, saying: That is what I want! To shine like a star.
In Alice Walker’s book We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For, Walker writes: “It was the poet June Jordan who wrote ‘We are the ones we have been waiting for.’ Sweet Honey in the Rock turned those words into a song. Hearing this song, I have witnessed thousands of people rise to their feet in joyful recognition and affirmation. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for because we are able to see what is happening with a much greater awareness than our parents or grandparents, our ancestors, could see. This does not mean we believe, having seen the greater truth of how all oppression is connected, how pervasive and unrelenting, that we can ‘fix’ things. But some of us are not content to have a gap in opportunity and income that drives a wedge between rich and poor, causing the rich to become ever more callous and complacent and the poor to become ever more wretched and humiliated. Not willing to ignore starving and brutalized children. Not willing to let women be stoned or mutilated without protest. Not willing to stand quietly by as farmers are destroyed by people who have never farmed, and plants are engineered to self-destruct. Not willing to disappear into our flower gardens, Mercedes Benzes or sylvan lawns. We have wanted all our lives to know that Earth, who has somehow obtained human beings as her custodians, was also capable of creating humans who could minister to her needs, and the needs of her creation. We are the ones.”
In this season of giving, if you feel moved to connect with the women, kids, and communities Action Kivu partners with in Congo, please take a moment to read more stories on our blog to learn how your donation is an investment in community building programs that are bringing new hope to women long denied equal rights and access to an education through our Literacy Courses and Vocational Training Programs, as well as life-transforming work in HIV / AIDS prevention, sustainable farming training, animal husbandry, and education assistance for kids like Borauzima.
We are grateful for all our partners who donate annually or on a monthly basis – thank you! We feel surrounded by the power of people reaching out to care for each other in this holiday season and into the new year.
As we enter the holiday season, we reflect on the generosity of our Action Kivu family – you! Though we can’t all gather around a table to celebrate and thank you in person, we gather online, in emails and Facebook posts and Instagram photos, to share stories of the lives of the children and women, siblings and mothers, who have new hope because of your support. We’re asking you to help us reach our $3500 goal to gather 300 kids together in Mumosho to celebrate with a pair of shoes, clothes, and a holiday meal, often the only shoes and clothes they’ll receive all year.
Many of the children in our Action Kivu family have lost a mother, a father, or both parents to the ongoing conflict in Congo. They are “silent victims of violence,” as this NYT piece reports, and “over 4 million kids have been orphaned in Congo.”
“These children have grown up amid conflict fueled by ethnic strife and the fight over Congo’s valuable minerals. The violence and displacement are eroding the tradition of families caring for their own.
“The breakdown in family means some orphans are forced to look after themselves and their younger siblings. Some are vulnerable to recruitment by armed groups. And many also face sexual exploitation, in a country where rape has become commonplace on the streets.
“‘They are the orphans with a story of violence since 1994 — it’s a generation of victims that continues,’ says Francisca Ichimpaye, a senior monitor at the En Avant Les Enfants INUKA center. And the children ‘lose their story in the violence.'”
We’ll share some of the stories of the kids we know to let them know that their stories are not lost. Kids like Arsene, who last year told us: ”I am so happy again today because the red t-shirt I am wearing was given to me last year at the Christmas Celebration. I have nobody since my father passed away 4 years ago. I am in school because of your support, every year I get a new pair of shorts and a shirt or a T-shirt and a pair of shoes.”
Please visit our Facebook, Instagram or Twitter page to help us share their stories and ask others to join you in investing in the kids and women of Congo. And please consider giving this week to buy shoes, clothes, and a meal for 300 of these kids in Mumosho!
It’s Action Kivu’s birthday today, and to celebrate being 6 years old, we want to thank each and every one of you who has partnered with us and invested in the women, children, and communities of Congo!
Your generosity continues to make a meaningful impact in the lives of the people in Congo. Action Kivu began partnering with Amani Matabaro and his non-profit ABFEC in 2010. For five years before that, Amani / ABFEC had been operating a Sewing Workshop and Education Assistance Program out of his own pocket. In 2005, there were 7 women in the Sewing Workshop, and 15 children being sent to school. After launching Action Kivu and growing our family of donors, we have now graduated 236 girls and women from the Sewing Workshop, giving them the machines, necessary tools, and financial literacy to start their own small businesses, and are registering new students for the Class of 2017 now! With a grant from Jewish World Watch and your donations, over 400 children are now enrolled in school.
With your monthly donations and annual gifts, we’ve grown from those two programs to a variety of educational, vocational, and community building programs: 245 girls and women are in the Literacy Program, over 100 women and girls are enrolled in the Vocational Training Programs including basket weaving and bread baking. More than 100 families have been given goats and the animal husbandry support to breed them, to give back the kid to the next family awaiting a goat. Goats are a symbol of friendship and deepening connection, and a part of the circle of organic farming in our Shared Farm / Organic Food for All program, in which 180 women and girls are learning to farm, and growing healthy food for their families and to sell at the market.
With your support, we send a stipend for a nurse to teach HIV / AIDS awareness courses, family planning, and education to prevent and treat common diseases like malaria.
Without you, our Action Kivu family, none of this would be possible. Amani sends this message from Congo to honor the 6th Anniversary of our partnership:
“I’d like to thank everyone who has so far supported the work we do here via Action Kivu! That is the way to build a beloved community, to give hope to those whose hope has been stolen by the forces of evil. The support of our work is light in darkness, and communities feel a sense of worth that someone cares, and takes action.”
Visit our programs through a beautiful video filmed and edited by Hélène Estèves:
Thank you! Merci! Asante sana! We are grateful for you being part of our family, playing a part in creating the beloved community, taking action to invest in women and children and a brighter, more peaceful world for us all.
Read more about the impact of your giving: