13 years old, Furaha just finished grade 3 of elementary school. She walks about a half hour from school to home, where she lives with her grandparents and her two sisters and three brothers. After school, she helps out at home with the dishes, drawing water, and collecting firewood for cooking when they have food.
Furaha loves going to school: “As a girl, I want to be educated and help my family and country.” Like many of her classmates, her passion is for Congo to be a place of peace. Her hero is Amani, our visionary leader and community builder, whose name means peace.
When Furaha finishes school, she’d like to be an elementary school principal.
Every year the team behind International Women’s Day gives us a theme to celebrate and explore. For 2017, it is “Be bold for change.” The women and girls of Action Kivu are on it. They’ve been exploring this theme since the day they walked in the gate to the Mumosho Community Center, emboldened by the words of welcome: that they are inherently worthy of love and respect, they are equal to men, and they are powerful agents of change.
Translation: Together for 50/50 parity by 2030: investing in decent work and full employment for women in a climate of peace and equity!
International Women’s Day is a special day for me because it is a moment for me to remember, to be aware that I have rights as a woman and my rights must be respected. I am aware I can stand up and speak in front of others, men included. This year we are standing up to tell the world we are equal and we should be looked at equally. Young girls must be given the chance to go to school, my parents never gave me the chance to get an education but the programs here at Action Kivu opened my eyes. We are fighting to have equal access to job opportunities. We are working to change our society.
Being at Action Kivu makes me aware that what men do, women can also do. Gender equity must be respected in job opportunities and we must reach the goal to help fight extreme poverty in the country. Why are so many of the children who do not have the chance to get an education girls? It has to end. My life has changed since I joined the programs at Action Kivu. I am now working to feed my child and myself. Being part of Action Kivu helped me change how I look at my daughter, I understand she is equal to boys and I will work hard to send her to school. I am able to pay for medical care for my daughter since I do not know her father. These programs made me feel proud of myself, I am looked at differently. I feel strong and thank everyone for supporting Action Kivu.
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.
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.
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)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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!!!!
Christmas came a few days early for the kids in Mumosho, DRC, thanks to you, our family of supporters in the U.S. and around the world. Santa arrived in the form of our founder and leader, Papa Amani, as he is known to the kids, bearing bags of shoes and clothes for over 250 children, many for whom this is the only clothing they will receive for the new year.
Older students, kids who have grown up in school because of Amani’s Education Assistance program, volunteered to help. They were eager to play their part, to pay it forward by giving their time to the organization that has helped them stay in school, to find the inspiration and practical help to follow their dreams, and to encourage the dreams of the younger students, like Orelie.
Currently halfway through the first year at secondary school, Orelie has a vision for Congo, and created the slogan that Amani embraced for ABFEK, our partner organization: “New People, New Actions, New Congo.” Orelie’s favorite part of school is community, “when we come together as brothers and sisters during breaks, playing and singing.”
Your resolution to partner with the people of Congo is already turning Orelie’s vision into reality. Through your support, over 400 children are attending school through our Education Assistance Program for vulnerable children; 15 teen mothers and their babies have housing and vocational training after being abandoned by their families because of rape; over 90 families are part of our growing animal husbandry program; 245 women are learning to read and write through our Literacy Program; 180 women are learning sustainable farming, growing food to sell and to feed their families on our two shared farms; 236 women have learned the skill and trade of sewing, starting their own businesses, earning income to feed and send their kids to school, helping to break the cycle of extreme poverty.
Celebrating Christmas and the New Year, some of the kids swarmed the playground, legs kicking to swing high, hands gripping tightly as they spun in circles on the merry-go-round, watching to see who could roll an old tire the furthest and fastest. They stopped to eat a warm meal of rice, beans, and peas, served by the older students, including Brigitte, who joined the Teen Mothers Program three years ago after she was raped, pregnant before her 14th birthday.
Shunned by her relatives and others in the village, Brigitte found compassion and love at the Mumosho Women’s Center. A strong young girl, Amani tells us, she finished the Teen Mothers Program empowerment sessions and decided to join the Education Assistance Program. Through our partner grant from Jewish World Watch, she was re-enrolled in school. Today Brigitte is in the fifth grade of secondary school, with one year to go before she graduates. Her goal is to attend university and law school, to defend and protect the oppressed, girls like herself only three years ago.
Your support is creating real transformation in individual lives of the children and women of Congo, and creating a stronger community of generosity and trust. When Brigitte volunteered to serve food to the kids, she called them her brothers and sisters, because they accepted her and loved her.
Celebrating Christmas and ringing in 2016 with new hope, the children in Mumosho, Congo send you their thanks.
They took turns drawing, sketching, creating. ”I am dreaming of becoming a pilot and that’s why I am drawing a plane,” says Borauzima Daniel. “On board this plane I am sending my best wishes for Christmas and the New Year to the Action Kivu supporters who are making a huge difference in my everyday life.”
Read more about the kids, women, and community we partner with in Congo:
Meet Mamy in a video from our Sewing Graduation Day, 2015
Meet Cikwanine, Nadine, & Chanceline – three teen moms who are back in school!
Meet Claudine, and read her story of coming “back to life”
Meet Grandma Mwayuma and see some of the children at play
Meet Amani through the Enough Project’s “I Am Congo” video series
Meet the goats in our animal husbandry program, Your Goat is My Goat