There are many places for people of all ages to find community in Mumosho, Congo: the church, the local elementary school yards, or a hot day at the Peace Market, where people are happy to be crowded under the market’s roof, selling or buying peppers and fish, bananas and plastic woven bags, happy for respite from the relentless sun or downpour of rain. If the women who are learning sustainable farming on Action Kivu’s Organic Food for All (OFFA) demonstration farms aren’t there at the Market, selling beautiful fruits and vegetables, they may be found down the road, at the Mumosho Women’s Center.
Over at the Center, the place is swarming with, well, women. They move from the sewing workshop to take a break and stretch their limbs outside. They walk down to where the literacy class meets in the afternoon. They swap caring for babies so the teen moms who live at the center get a break.
Outside the Mumosho Women’s Center
But at least once a week, both women and men gather at the Center, where they meet for the community’s weekly empowerment session. Men and women, often with children in tow, gather together at the center to discuss how mismanagement is hurting Congo. And more importantly, how to take ownership of their own actions, the behaviors and relationships that will affect the community and eventually, the entire country.
“We talk about the worth of sharing in the community,” Amani explains. With Action Kivu‘s animal husbandry goat program, the families are required to return to the Women’s Center when the new kid is born, to set into motion the title of the program, “My Goat is Your Goat.” Amani shares the example he shares with the men and women at the weekly meeting. “If you sell the goat without telling the organization, you are just like those who embezzle funds / resources in Congo.” It starts with you. Amani’s face lights up: “The women and men LOVE that. They respond to that.”
Nearby village chiefs are invited to attend, to share the sessions with their communities.
Through this center, these weekly meetings, the entrepreneurial courses and literacy classes, Amani and his staff are providing the education, training, and safe space for people to explore what it means to be those leaders in their own lives, in their personal relationships, in their families, communities, provinces.
“It starts at the micro level,” Amani says. “Change in Congo has to start in our households. If I’m a bad father, in my household, then how am I going to act in the greater community of Congo? We inspire people to be honest in all their transactions, in relationships, in promises, in contracts, to create the Congo we want for our kids.”
I was reminded of the empowerment trainings in Mumosho, Congo, while listening to a re-broadcast of Brené Brown’s conversation with Krista Tippet about the strength of vulnerability, and stepping into hope and the fear of unknown at the same time.
…”It starts by an openness to seeing ourselves and seeing kind of how we’re protecting ourselves from vulnerability. I think that’s where it started. I think … even for me today, I am the most successful doing, you know, this work and trying to be real and transparent and me and feel good in my own skin when I stay very aware of what kind of armor I’m throwing up or when I feel afraid.
“I think maybe the definitive piece of knowing that has helped me with this is that I was raised in a very kind of binary culture. If things were good or bad, you know, you were brave or you were afraid. You were courageous or you were fearful. And I think for me, one of the definitive moments in my life was realizing that most of us are brave and afraid in the exact same moment all day long.”
We’re so honored to work alongside our friends in Congo, who through your support are stepping into and helping create a better present and future for Congo. Read more from our blog to learn about the entrepreneurial programs, the informational meetings, the Peace Market, and more!
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