Category Page: Congo

An Education: From Star Student to Teacher [Congo]

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Whether it is reading the tape measure in the Sewing Workshop or properly spacing vegetables on our teaching farms or measuring flour in our Baking Program, Action Kivu’s Literacy Program is the entry point to all our work in vocational training! Here, women and girls denied a formal education learn to read and write and become literate in numeracy, giving them the tools needed to learn a new skill, and start a small business to earn income.

Read more stories of how your donation is an investment in the women and kids of Congo and how it changes lives: the life one more girl, one more student, one more woman who finds hope and passes it forward, helping to break the cycle of extreme poverty and inequality.
  • Meet Sikitu and Neema, at work in the Shared Farm program. The women have been tending a compost pile made of grass, domestic waste, and soil for one year, raking it over every four to six months, depending on how fast it composts. 35 years old, Sikitu is the proud mother of eight, but two of her children died of malaria when they were 13 and 3. Sikitu never got the chance to go to school, and is now part of both our Literacy and OFFA program. Mama Sikitu works beside Neema, who at 18 years old is one of 9 children who did not get the opportunity for an education. Neema is also a student in the Literacy Program, the entry point for all Action Kivu’s vocational training courses.
  • Meet Aimerciane, who graduated the Sewing Workshop in 2012, and is proud to report that with the sewing machine she received at graduation, she started her own business. Four years later, with weddings, special events, and regular customers, she averages earning $60 USD a week.
  • Meet Adolphine, who is 60 and the mother of six. Two of her daughters are married, four of her children are in school, and Adolphine is now a student in Action Kivu’s Literacy Program.“Women did not have any right to go to school,” she says. “But I liked studies so much. I never lost hope that one day I would study.”

Water is Life: The Lasting Impact of the Mumosho Water Project in Gender Equality and Education [Congo]

When Amani asked what this water tap means to this little boy, he replied: Let me show you!

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Our partner Amani Matabaro’s leadership in his local Bukavu Mwangaza Rotary Club made water flow into areas where people previously had no access to clean drinking water. Thanks to a Global Grant facilitated by the Montecito Rotary club, Amani was in charge of overseeing the project implemented by the Mumosho Local Water Committee. The task was to build one large reservoir and repair three existing reservoirs in Mumosho, where Action Kivu works with Amani in vocational training, education, and community building programs.

Amani does not settle for what is, but asks: what might be? And in this case, his community organizing turned the 22 water taps scheduled to go in to six villages into 51 taps that now serve 12 villages! Mark Magid, a representative of the Montecito Rotary Club, traveled from California to Congo to witness the work, and was amazed by the success of the project, that also included repairing 30 dysfunctional taps, so there are 81 newly working water taps.

How did Amani more than double the impact of the grant? We witness this in his work with Action Kivu every day – how Amani engages people in his passion, giving them ownership of the project. He invests his time: connecting with individuals, community leaders, church priests and pastors, and small groups of people. Once they’ve embraced the vision, in this case – access to clean water for their communities – they reach out to bring others on board. The community also talked to their children who had moved away from Mumosho, and found one person able to donate 150 pipes to the project. Local workers volunteered their labor.

The water project now provides the Mumosho Health Center with a water tank and a tap to ensure clean water is available there, especially for the maternity clinic. The grant requires training for the water committee to maintain the reservoirs and taps, as well as instruction in water testing, sanitation, and the components of water and peace, and the protection of water infrastructures.

In more ways than one, water is life. The project is also training the community on gender equality: shattering myths and long held traditions, the training teaches men and boys that collecting water is NOT only women’s work, it is everyone’s responsibility. The training also highlights the importance of education – children should be in school, not walking long distances or waiting in long lines for water. The increased number of taps means shorter wait time for life-giving water.

We’re honored to work with Amani and invest in the various ways his tremendous community building leadership creates lasting change in Congo. Please read more about his life-changing programs on our blog, and consider investing in this work through a one-time or monthly donation today!

 

Students cheered for the new water tap at their school.

Students celebrate the new water tap at their school.

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Women and Girls Growing a Healthy Congo: Field Report from Action Kivu’s Shared Farm

“...we are custodians of deep and ancient thresholds. In the human face you see that potential and the miracle of undying possibility.” ― John O'Donohue,“Should agriculture be a required school subject?” writer Dan Nosowitz asks in his Modern Farmer piece that highlights Kenya’s attempt to add agriculture to its curriculum. At Action Kivu, our Organic Food for All (OFFA) program trains women and girls, denied a formal education, in the skill and art of agriculture. Here five farmers weed the beans they grow on the lush land down in a marsh in Mumosho, critical in the dry season for the water to grow food when vegetables are rare and expensive. “Having access to this land, thanks to Action Kivu support, makes a huge difference,” our partner Amani tells us.

Invest in the women and girls growing a better future for Congo here!

Read more about our Entrepreneurial, Educational, and Community Building Programs:

Microloan Moms: Adherents of Hope Writing the History of Congo

“We write history with our feet and with our presence and our collective voice and vision.”
~Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark

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CLAUDINE BARHISHINDI SELLING MAIZEWalking the dusty dirt roads of eastern Congo to run her small business as a trader of local beer and the maize to make it, Claudine’s feet are on the ground, writing her chapter in the history of the women of Congo. There is great dignity in presence, in showing up daily for her work.

Claudine is still amazed at how much her life has changed in such a short amount of time after she received a microloan from the Power in Unity group, a program that began with donations from Action Kivu supporters and has grown into a sustainable economic system of investment, where each member pays forward their loan in small monthly installments, giving back part of their profits to create another loan for a new entrepreneur.

“The way you see me here, I don’t know where to begin telling you about my life,” Claudine tells us. “But before I talk about my life, I first want to say thank you very much to Action Kivu / ABBEC. I consider them like my parents because they have done a great thing in my life. It gave sense to my life.”

Married, and the mother of seven children (three girls and four boys), Claudine had first tried to run a business on her own, borrowing 10 dollars from a friend here, 20 dollars from a neighbor there. But it was never enough; she couldn’t pay back her loans and also feed, clothe, and pay the fees to send her kids to school.

“Since I got the loan,” Claudine reports, “five of my children are studying and we eat one meal a day.” One meal a day is not sufficient, “but at least we know that there will be a meal every evening,” Claudine says. “I can also save a little money. I also got a goat from Action Kivu / ABFEC. It helps me with fertilizer for my soil and I have hope that I will gain many other things from it.”

Claudine adds her voice and vision to the collective when she meets with the other women in the Power in Unity group twice a month. They voted in a president and a committee of eight women who oversee the meetings and the finances. The women pool their resources and have created a sustainable system in which their profits make it possible to include new members, while also depositing into a social fund to help members who need money for medicine, or marriage, or who are too sick to work, or are grieving the loss of a loved one.

The community the women have created has never been seen before in Mumosho, but that is the underlying meaning of hope: it fertilizes and tills the ground for the foundation of a new reality, allowing hope’s adherents to write their new history.

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Read more Microloan Mom stories here:

To invest in women like Claudine, donate to Action Kivu here!

 

To Achieve Their Dreams: All Together Against HIV/AIDS (Congo)

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Chiruza couldn’t keep from asking questions. A young student representing his school in the HIV/AIDS training that day in Mumosho, Congo, he stood up often, clarifying facts, challenging the status quo, making sure he had all the info to return to his classmates fully armed with an education on how to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS.

He was one of the many kids in the training session that day, children and teens who dream of graduating school to become lawyers, politicians, or, like Chiruza, an engineer in industrial electricity. After learning the statistics, that in sub-Saharan Africa, 1.1 million [1.0 million – 1.3 million] people died of AIDS-related causes in 2013, and that Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for almost 70% of the global total of new HIV infections, Chiruza and his new friends in the meeting were angry. Armed with information, they were ready to engage in a battle against the disease, so they and their classmates, their sisters and brothers, could achieve their dreams.

“The proliferation of armed groups, successive wars, and poverty at community levels in connection with the movement of military groups and young people, especially to and from mining sites, along with the lack of mass education on HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases are some of the root causes of why HIV /AIDS is a serious threat that kills people every day, with the potential to spread rampantly through communities without this education,” Amani tells us.

How can we serve our mission, Amani asks, to invest in the women, children, and communities of Congo, if they are dying from a disease we can prevent through education?  All Together Against HIV/AIDS is a community-based anti-HIV/AIDS campaign by ABFEC (formerly ABFEK), Action Kivu’s partner in Congo. The program consists of diversified activities centered in the community, with a focus on settings with large populations such as schools, churches, and community-based organizations in eastern DRC. Sub Saharan Africa represents almost 70% of the total new HIV infections in the world, according to UN AIDS.

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Action Kivu sends a small stipend to help pay Nurse Jeanine for her work, who headed up the training along with with nurses Safi and Toto, women who volunteered their time and experience of over 10 years of work in local hospitals, with specific education in HIV/AIDS.  They came concerned for a community that was unaware of a disease that continues to decimate their country and continent.

“Out of 37 million people estimated to be living with HIV, 19 million do not know their status. In other words, one out of every two people living with HIV does not know that they are HIV-positive – and therefore does not access treatment and care.” (The Global Fund)

Brigitte and Chanceline – ready to educate their peers.

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Both Brigitte and Chanceline live at the Mumosho Women’s Center, part of the Teen Mother’s Program that is supported by a grant from Jewish World Watch. Strong young women, they both survived rape, and, left alone to raise the babies resulting from that assault, found a new home and new hope through the community of women at the Center, as well as the opportunity to finish school. Brigitte became a mother before she was 14. Joining our family four years ago, and now back in school, she has one more year of Secondary school, and wants to become a lawyer, to defend and protect the rights of the oppressed, especially women and children.  After attending this training, she is also now a strong voice in her school in this campaign against HIV/AIDS.

The participants for the first training were selected by the school principals based on their leadership qualities and ability to pass along what they learned to their classmates. Five secondary schools in the area were represented by two students for each class, as well as two local churches. The school principals unanimously agreed to integrate this program in their weekly school activities, in which the students from the training course will be given space and time to share what they have learned with their peers at school, sessions that will be overseen by Nurse Jeanine.

All Together Against HIV/AIDS is based on BCC methods – Behavior Change & Communication. Jeanine started the day with a questionnaire to learn what the community already knows about HIV/AIDS, including the definition of key terms like HIV/AIDS, PVV (a person living with HIV) and their rights, PTME (mother-to-child HIV transmission protection), ARV (treatment with the use of antiretrovirals), how HIV is transmitted, what the protection methods are.  After the training session, Jeanine proctored a follow-up test, to determine that her students were set to return to their schools and churches, to educate others and spread the facts.  The most popular community radio station arrived to air the event in support of the initiative: All Together Against HIV/AIDS.

“People who don’t know their status, or who are not able to access treatment and care, are at risk of developing AIDS or of passing the virus on to others – at a huge cost to themselves and to society.

“… Today, with access to lifesaving treatment, an HIV-positive person can expect to have the same lifespan as someone who is HIV-negative.

“One of the cornerstones of this lifesaving treatment is the use of antiretrovirals (ARVs). ARVs are given as a combination of drugs that can reduce the amount of HIV in the body or prevent HIV in people at substantial risk of acquiring the virus. However, ARVs are not a cure for HIV; a person living with HIV who is on treatment will need to take ARVs the rest of their life. ARVs also have another benefit: treatment reduces the chance that an HIV-positive person will pass the virus on to someone else by 97 percent.” (The Global Fund)

 

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Learn the facts from the UN AIDS fact sheet below, and support our work to combat HIV/AIDS in Congo. Action Kivu pays a small stipend to Nurse Jeanine for her work in our community, from family planning to this HIV/AIDS awareness building.  If you’d like to support her life-saving work, please consider a monthly donation by clicking here, and mark in PayPal’s note to seller: NURSE.

– Between 2005 and 2013 the number of AIDS-related deaths in sub-Saharan Africa fell by 39%.

Treatment coverage is 37% of all people living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa.

– 67% of men and 57% of women were not receiving ART in sub-Saharan Africa in 2013.

– Three out of four people on ART live in sub Saharan Africa.

– There were 210,000 [180,000 – 250,000] new HIV infections among children in sub-Saharan Africa in 2013.

– Since 2009, there has been a 43% decline in new HIV infections among children in the 21 priority countries of the Global Plan in Africa.

-67% of men and 57% of women had no access to Antiretroviral care in 2013.

As nurses Jeanine and Safi and Toto began the training, one graded the pre-test. 96% of the participants had no knowledge on the topics covered that day: general knowledge of HIV/AIDS, global and DRC  HIV-related statistics, modes of transmission, prevention, care, living with and accepting people with HIV (PVV), the clinical symptoms, briefings on different techniques used for voluntary testing, and mother-to-child HIV transmission prevention.

When the students took a similar test after the training session ended, 92% answered all the above, and new questions, correctly. They were very interested and kept the nurses as long as they could with more questions, before leaving with training materials  to ensure they will have resources to use for passing on the education to their peers at school.

As a trusted source of education and training in the community, our partner organization ABFEC plays a key role in this education process. Almost all the women who attended the anti-HIV campaign stated that it is not always easy to convince their husbands to undertake a voluntary HIV test.  Through your partnership with Action Kivu, you provide the means for ABFEC to be a bridge between the community and local health facilities with capacities to provide antiretroviral medication, in addition to providing expanding education on HIV/AIDS and other Sexually Transmissible Diseases one day every week, as well as individual and group counseling before voluntary testing.

For those who test positive, the program will provide an orientation, practical ways to avoid transmitting the disease, and be put in immediate contact with one of the two hospitals are able to provide antiretroviral medication in the area: The Nyantende and the Panzi Hospitals, both located at about 15 km from Mumosho.

Nurse Jeanine is committed to tirelessly spread the word, to stop of the spread of this preventable disease.  Will you join us?  We currently send a stipend of $100 / month for Jeanine’s critical work, and want to pay her $150 more, as well to hire an assistant for her, to help address the community needs, prepare the training sessions, and begin to provide female and male condoms.  Email us at actionkivu@gmail.com with any questions, or note NURSE in your PayPal donation.

Thank you for partnering with the people of Congo in this way!

Amani writes: The photo with everyone with two fingers up means we are all ready to go go go go!!!!

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