Many of the women we work with in Congo come from large families, with five or more children. Either a single mother themselves, or raised by one, they struggle to feed, clothe, and educate their kids, while the children work to grow and sell food, cart heavy loads for miles for pay, kids carrying their younger siblings, strapped to their backs while they work.
The image of carrying one another rings true in Bienvenie’s story, which we shared after meeting her during our visit to eastern Congo in January of 2012. She shared that she is proud of her mother, who cares for her and her siblings with the food she harvests from their farm. Bienvenie is proud of her new sewing skills, and, at that time, dreamed to have her own business. Denied a basic education, she always longed to learn to sew, but her mother could not afford to send her to the sewing school.
“I’ve been dreaming for a long time, how I could learn to sew,” Bienvenie told us in Mashi, her first language. “Because I didn’t get a chance to go to school, I asked my mother to send me, to pay tuition for me to learn to sew. But my mom is too poor, she could not afford it. But the people who started this program, I don’t know what I could give them. People who are supporting this program, I don’t know what to tell them, because for me, it has been a dream to have a place where I can learn sewing, and here I am. I am very happy.”
Bienvenie’s dream came true. Because of the people in the United States and around the world who support Action Kivu’s work in Mumosho, Bienvenie graduated with a sewing machine in the summer of 2012, and is now one of the women who will make the school uniforms for the children Action Kivu sends to school with education assistance. She now runs her own business, making clothes for her community, and caring for her mother, who is ill and can no longer work.
Bienvenie can no longer strap her sister Cozi to her back, but her success is what inspired Cozi to join the Teen Mother’s program at the Mumosho Women’s Center, where she is part of the sewing workshop. Cozi will graduate with the skills and support to start her own business, and follow in the footsteps of her sister, changing the way women are viewed in their communities, creating paths for others to make a better life for their sisters.
“To the people who support the program and purchase the sewing machines: I am weeping inside my heart, I am grateful.” — Bienvenie
“My entire life is a new story after I had joined the ABFEK sewing program. My colleagues in the program have become a huge support for me and my child. This program is an answer to so many of my problems.” — Cozi
If you’d like to partner with the women in Congo, click here! Every dollar makes a difference and goes to the work on the ground, from entrepreneurial trainings to literacy classes to agricultural instruction.