We first met Nathalie in 2017 on Action Kivu’s organic farm, where she was working a plot of land with her mother, Rose.
Nathalie is one of nine children, and the fourth of eight girls. Her parents could not afford to send their kids to school, and when her father died, Nathalie’s mother started working on the farm, to grow healthy food to feed her family and sell at the market.
Fast forward to 2018, and Nathalie has been working hard at Action Kivu’s Sewing Workshop, determined to create a better life for herself and her family. “I was envious of the women who had graduated from here,” she said. “I wanted to be like them: strong, empowered women.”
Speaking about the community she has found in her sewing school, she said, “being here, learning from others, having them learn from me, mutual collaboration is community.”
Nathalie is ready to graduate, and we’re raising the funds to buy her and her fellow students each a sewing kit, complete with a Singer sewing machine, to start their own businesses, and to be like Bahati, Class of 2017, who is already earning enough income to care for her six children, and to have purchased a second machine, to teach her own students!
From December 10th to the 15th, 2018, Action Kivu is hosting a giveaway to raise the funds to graduate 42 students and continue our life-changing programs in Congo. Visit ActionKivu.org/giveaway to learn more, and donate!
Nurse Jeanine sits with six of the students who are anti-HIV / AIDS educators in their schools and communities, gathered to update us on their progress and the change they’ve seen from their outreach. With the support of donors to Action Kivu, 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.
Enter in the student educators. Led by Jeanine, they take their knowledge of prevention and treatment into their schools, teaching their peers and engaging their families and communities. Bisimwa joined Action Kivu’s education club in order to not only protect himself from the disease, but to save future generations.
Nurse Jeanine also teaches family planning to the communities Action Kivu partners with. Both men and women, who often cannot afford to feed or send to school the children they do have, come to meetings to learn what contraceptives are available and will work for them.
Jeanine sends her thanks to everyone who is connected to this program – it is truly saving lives.
Read more about All Together Against HIV/AIDS here, and click here to donate to Action Kivu’s life-changing work in Congo. Thank you for all you do in partnering with the people of Congo!
From our Founding Director, Amani Matabaro, who is a community organizer in every facet of his life, from his work with Action Kivu his commitment to the mission of Rotary International. Read Amani’s words, as his Rotary Club delivers medical equipment to Dr. Denis Mukwege for use at the Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, DRC:
“What an honor being a founding member of the Rotary Club of Bukavu Mwangaza! Today is an unforgettable day whereby my club officially hands over this medical equipment (Digital X-Ray / Brivo-F) to the Panzi Hospital, a life changing project whose vision came from Dr. Mukwege, the recipient of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize. [The equipment donation] is possible thanks to the generous support of Rotary International District 1620 in Belgium and the Rotary Club of Bukavu Mwangaza in south Kivu, DRC.
“Dr. Mukwege is a man whose sense of humility and compassion will inspire you every time you meet him. Today was not the first time I met Dr. Mukwege, but I felt moved by his words calling everyone to make a difference and not just stand idly by doing nothing.”
No matter where you are, you can make a difference and change the lives of so many, whether through the Panzi Hospital and Foundation, or through Amani’s work in education, from literacy to organic farming to sewing workshops to the newly opened Congo Peace School, paving the road for peace ambassadors. If you want to support this groundbreaking, life-changing school, visit patreon.com/congopeaceschool. Even $3 per month makes a difference, and the need is great, as we grow from four grades to the full school of 12 classes.
The school is already changing the lives of the students and staff. Read more about their stories here.
Bulangalire did not hesitate to speak up as we talked about what equality means for women and girls in Congo. “I’m very angry about the discrimination,” she said. “My father told me I shouldn’t go to school, that my brother should. My father knows he owes me a debt for not putting me in school.”
In her book A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie writes, “Teach her to reject likeability. Her job is not to make herself likeable, her job is to be her full self, a self that is honest and aware of the equal humanity of other people. … teach her to be honest. And kind. And brave. Encourage her to speak her mind, to say what she really thinks, to speak truthfully. And then praise her when she does.” (Eighth Suggestion)
Bulangire speaks her mind, sharing her story in order to change her world: “I got married, and the marriage ended, and I had to move back home. I told my father, see, if I’d had an education, I could be teaching right now.”
Bulangalire may have missed her opportunity for a formal education, but thanks to support from Action Kivu’s generous donors, she is learning the latest in organic farming, using new skills to grow nutritious food for her family, her community, and to sell to the Congo Peace School so that the students eat healthy meals, grown locally!
If you want to partner with us in this movement for equality, education, and peace, click here to donate today, and consider making it monthly. Our family of monthly donors allows us to plan ahead in sustainable growth.
The Congo Peace School teachers and staff continue to be trained in the tenets of peace & nonviolence. Amani Matabaro, trained at the University of Rhode Island in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s prinicples, leads the sessions, and reports that the teachers and staff are deeply engaged in the training.
One teacher responded: “We are training and educating these children differently. I wish I had had a chance to get educated on these topics when I was [the students’] age. They will not be violent, they are very lucky to grow up understanding what equality, humility, respect, peace, courage, self-worth and especially what healing and forgiveness mean.”
During the training last week, the faculty practiced the principles of nonviolence and peace through role-playing, learning to identify and respond to the signs of trauma.
Some of the examples given to the teachers and staff to understand when students are showing signs of trauma:
· Weeping/crying for no reasons
· They may want to stay very close to a grown up person of their choice because they have fears
· They have nightmares
· They want to stay in isolation
· They show signs of delay in physical development
· Their sleep is disturbed
· They rebel
· Wet the bed beyond the age of 6
· Disrupted appetite
· Physical health issues: stomachache, headache
The teachers are trained to respond to trauma in the following ways, and to immediately refer them to the school counselor.
· Showing or expressing affection to the students, affection can help them to heal
· Take them in their arms and talk to them gently
· Be very patient and nice with them
· Help them express themselves in words or drawings and games for those who can
· Give them toys if possible
· They need to be comforted
· Use an easy and clear language with them
· Listen and respond to their questions
· Give them space and time to speak about their dreams
· Encourage them to make friends and build their hopes together
If you want to join the movement, a monthly donation of as little as $3 / month helps us plan for the future as we grow from the current four grades to fill the school’s classrooms with all 12 grades. Learn more and make a commitment to peace at https://www.patreon.com/congopeaceschool.
Thank you to our Action Kivu family, members around the world who are part of making this vision of peace a reality!