Category Page: Equal Rights | Women’s Rights

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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Meet Brigitte: Stories of Hope and a New Future in Congo

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Read more about Brigitte in the following stories:

To partner with Action Kivu, click here.

 

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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!

 

Microloan Mom in Congo: Nsimire’s Vision for the Future

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If you were to meet Nsimire selling her fresh beans at the Peace Market in Mumosho, you might address her as “Mama Nsimire,” as the women in Congo are called. The moniker could not be more true for Nsimire, who is the mother of 18 children.

Due to extreme poverty, eight of Nsimire’s children have died, and she and her husband now care for 10 kids. Before she received a loan through Action Kivu’s Power of Unity group, Nsimire was working on a farm, earning around a dollar per day of labor. With her husband unemployed, they were unable to feed or clothe their children, let alone pay for their school fees.

After receiving a loan of $50 USD from Action Kivu’s Power of Unity group, Nsimire began her business selling fresh beans at the market, and now seven of her 10 children are enrolled in school!

Part of the Power of Unity program is to pay forward her loan, to invest in more women entrepreneurs joining the group to start their own small businesses. Beyond that investment, Nsimire envisions sending all of her children to school, and opening a big shop in Mumosho.

To invest in women like Nsimire, visit ActionKivu.org. Every dollar makes a difference in changing the lives of these women through literacy classes and vocational training programs, and immediately affects the lives of their children through nourishment, health education, and formal education, helping to break the cycle of poverty. We’re grateful for and depend on our generous monthly and one-time donors! Click here to learn more.

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