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.
When Amani asked what this water tap means to this little boy, he replied: Let me show you!
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!
“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.
Read more about our Entrepreneurial, Educational, and Community Building Programs:
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:
The women you support through Action Kivu celebrated International Women’s Day on Saturday. They smiled as they marched through Mumosho; fists raised, they sang out for justice for all women, holding signs calling for men and women to stand up for equality for a just world. They proudly walked the main road, their feet kicking up red dust, their children underfoot, husbands, brothers, and sons supporting them from all sides.
It was a powerful uprising, Amani tells us, where he promised the women and girls that we will not give up. We will continue to lift our voice in unison for equality and human rights! It was the first time the king of the Kabare kingdom, which is made up of several groupings including Mumosho, joined in the celebration, with the queen performing traditional dances with the woman and Amani (see below). The king added his words of encouragement for the women and for ABFEC / Action Kivu’s work, stating that he supports the work we do and is behind any program uplifting women and girls.
Many of the girls and women at the Sewing Workshop made their own clothes for the event. “This pair of scissors, this tape measure, this sewing machine simply helps me entirely change my life once and for all,” one student told our partner, Amani.
“We are on the journey towards changing our lives!”
Outside the Mumosho Women’s Center
A woman steps in to give specific directions to Amani while the queen of Kabare awaits the next dance.
Thank you for partnering with the amazing people of Congo! To set up a monthly donation to support our programs, including the Sewing Workshop, the shared farms, the literacy program, the HIV/AIDS education, and animal husbandry, click here.
Learn more about our work: