A message from Amani Matabaro, Action Kivu’s Founding Director and the co-founder of our local Congolese partner, ABFEC.
As we say goodbye to 2018 and welcome a new year, I would like to take this opportunity to thank our supporters, and to share what your partnership has meant to the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Congo is a country with very little in the way of access to quality education for children, women’s empowerment, and socioeconomic services. Yet the country is as vast as all of Western Europe and a very rich country in natural resources such as diamonds, coltan, copper, cobalt, and gold. It is what I call a rich country for poor people.
2018 was a special year in that, for the first time, a local Congolese organization built a high standard school to promote nonviolence and peace, entrepreneurship, equality, equity, and transformational leadership. With the dedicated support and majority funding from our Peace School partner, the Dillon Henry Foundation, and generous support from Pour les Femmes, as well as the individual contributions from so many of you, the Congo Peace School, a decade-long dream of mine, became a reality. The construction of the school campus started in September 2017 and was completed in July 2018. Using the training I received from the University of Rhode Island’s Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies as well as my training in Cognitive Processing Therapy for communities that have experienced trauma, I began training the staff and students in August, and the Congo Peace School opened in September 2018 with four classes of the eventual 12 grades, a student population of 160, balanced for equity between girls and boys. It is one of the only schools in the region where the students receive two meals a day, often the only food they will eat, as well as have access to a school counselor and nurse.
The mission of the school is in line with all of our ongoing programs that invest in the education, equity and equality of girls and women, from vocational training courses that include the Sewing Workshop. Since partnering with Action Kivu and our family of donors, we have graduated 205 sewing students with their own sewing kits to start their businesses, with 42 ready to graduate right now. Girls and women denied a formal education learn practical skills to earn income such as soap making, bread baking, basket weaving, organic farming and an education in protecting the environment, animal husbandry with goats, pigs, rabbits, and fish contributing to the health of the farm, and the Literacy Program, which, combined, have served over 300 women and girls since 2010.
Our HIV/AIDS education and treatment project is saving lives. With the support of donors to Action Kivu, Nurse Jeanine has tested over 1400 people in 2018, and follows up with those who tested positive, offering access to treatment at the clinic where she works. She speaks with hope about the change she has seen from the education and information campaign we started in 2016, when she had to work to convince people to be tested for HIV. Now, she says, men and women seek her out. And some who tested positive have told her that if they had met her earlier in their lives, they would never have been infected.
As word spreads of the valuable, life-changing assistance these programs provide, we continue to see many more children, women, and teen mothers coming to seek support from locations deeper in the South Kivu Province. These survivors are my heroes, they inspire me to keep pushing forward for peace, equality, and education for them, their children, and the world!
I would like to take this opportunity to once again thank all our supporters, large and small, for their allegiance to the programs and steady support throughout a period in which they have other important things to take on but they chose to make our life changing programs a reality. I hope that, as you look at these pictures, you will see how your support makes a huge difference by being well used in responding to very real, critical needs. Hence your support is making a huge difference and brings a new hope in the lives of so many who have seen nothing but violence, have felt nothing but despair. We now see hope.
With gratitude and appreciation,
It’s not too late for a year-end donation online, or to set up a monthly donation that allows us to plan ahead as we deepen our impact in the lives of women and children in Congo, and all the people they influence.
Every dollar makes a difference. $20 buys a ream of fabric for the women in the Sewing Workshop to learn with. $35 pays for one month of one girl’s sewing education. $50 pays for seeds for the farm. $150 pays for one month of one of the literacy teacher’s salary. $200 pays for one month for nurse Jeanine’s family planning education and HIV/AIDS testing and prevention. $2000 pays for the yearly salary for one of Action Kivu’s sewing trainers.
We are grateful for all you do to invest in this life and culture changing work!