The stories coming from Congo are often about war: the crimes against humanity, the rape of women, the poverty and malnutrition that is created by a country constantly in conflict.We want to share stories of change
—women learning to sew, to read, to farm vegetables and healthy grains to feed their families and sell at the market. Women who are not giving up on their lives, or the future of Congo, flooding our Women’s Center to learn to read, so they can choose whom to vote for in the next election. Starting sewing businesses or earning income through our partner in Fair Trade, The Peace Exchange, and earning the income to send their children to school, to educate and empower the future leaders of their communities and country.For $195, we supply our sewing grads with kits that include a pedal-powered Singer sewing machine, thread, scissors, and material to start earning income using the new skills they have learned.
Any amount we raise toward that goal is crucial in creating sustainable growth in eastern Congo. Can you give today? Your tax deductible donation goes directly to the work on the ground, telling these women that they are not alone; you’ve heard their stories, and they matter. When we invest in women and girls, we change the future.
According to the United Nations Foundation, via the Clinton Global Initiative:
- Women who have control of their own income tend to have fewer children, and fertility rates have shown to be inversely related to national income growth. Girls and young women delaying marriage and having fewer children means a bigger change of increasing per capita income, higher savings, and more rapid growth.
- One quarter to one half of girls in developing countries become mothers before 18, and girls under 15 are five times more likely to die during childbirth than women in their 20s
- When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90 percent of it into their families.”
To move beyond the staggering statistics, meet some of the women we partner with. Cozi, a girl whose life was changed with an unplanned for pregnancy. She shared with us that her “entire life is a new story” since joining the sewing workshop.
, whose family “gave up on her,” after she was “impregnated without her consent,” but she chose not to give up on herself, and joined the sewing workshop and Teen Mother program at the Mumosho Women’s Center. She shared, “My life has changed a lot since I joined the ABFEK program. I share my experience with other people here in the sewing program and I feel comforted, now I have hope, joining this program gives me a new hope for my future.”
If you haven’t met our partner, Amani,
who started the non-profit ABFEK from his own income, this post tells why he so strongly believes that empowering women is the path to peace and growth in his country. The video at the bottom of the post was created a few years ago by The Enough Project, and gives a great sense of who Amani is.
Please share in the story of one of our sewing graduates, Ernata, who graduated with her sewing certificate in June, 2012. When we met her in January 2012, her story echoed that of a society where women have very little rights or value, and can be divorced without recourse for not bearing a male heir. “I have a big wound inside my heart,” Ernata told us. “If I don’t have children with my husband, he will kick my out. I’m noticing some changes, bad behavior, from his family members, who might urge him to chase me (from the home).”
Nine months later, Ernata gave birth to a different dream, as she works hard to sew uniforms for the kids in her village. She takes a break from her own sewing to supervise a fellow seamstress. “I am very proud of myself today,” Ernata shares, “and my husband is proud of me and he’s happy to have me as a wife, especially as I help make an income for the family.”
There are so many stories of how the women’s lives have been changed, both by our entrepreneurial trainings as well as knowing that people around the the world believe in them and support them. Donate here! And please share the women’s stories of hope with your friends, family, and colleagues!
Seed Distribution at the Demonstration Farm – Photos by Emma O’Brien