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!
“My plan was to apply for a job at the Congo Peace School, but I realized that priority would be given to those with an education. So I enrolled in Action Kivu’s Literacy Program.” Pascaline, 18 years old, was only able to attend school through the 3rd grade. Learning to read and write through Action Kivu’s adult Literacy Program, Pascaline wants more, to go beyond what we currently offer, and get the equivalent of a GED, to have an official certification that she has the education of a high school graduate, to be able to apply for good jobs, and possibly attend university.
We love Pascaline’s vision and determination. While DRC *does* have remedial education programs where a student who did not attend school can combine all six grades of primary school into three years, and then all six grades of secondary school in three years, these, like other schools in Congo, are not funded by the government, and Pascaline cannot afford six years of school to get her diploma. As we seek full funding for the Congo Peace School, we look to include the remedial classrooms as “night school” in the future.
Scroll through our site to learn more about how everything we do is based in education, from educating communities in human rights and equality to preventing HIV/AIDS to organic farming.
Everything we do through your support of Action Kivu is grounded in education – education about equality and human rights that is taught and practiced, education in the new classrooms of the Congo Peace School, daily lessons on the sewing machines or at the blackboard in the Literacy class, or in the dirt of the organic farm, an open-air classroom that is teaching sustainable, healthy food-growing practices.
It was an honor to meet one of our graduates in her own new classroom, her sewing studio, where, with the profits from her new business, she was able to invest in a second Singer sewing machine, and charge for lessons for a young high school graduate who plans to study fashion. Meet Bahati, who graduated Action Kivu’s Sewing Workshop last year, in the class of 2017. Only 28, Bahati is the sole provider for six children, three of her own, and three of her husband’s, who recently passed away. Bahati, who was forced to quit school one year before graduating secondary school, knows the importance of an education, and uses the profits from her sewing business to send her children to school.
Bahati has a message for you, the supporters who made it possible for her to learn a new trade and skill, and start her business with a sewing machine. Click on the video below, or here, to hear from her.
Invest in education and equality today! Click here to give a one-time or monthly donation.
We hear this story over and over from the sewing students and recent alumni – how being a part of a community, learning marketable skills, and embracing their equality as women is opening new doors for hope, for planning for the future. Sara, whose father died in the conflict, only attended school through grade 5 of elementary, as her mother couldn’t afford the fees. Now 20 and a mother to a three-year-old, Sara lives at the Teen Mother’s Center, supported by Jewish World Watch and their partnership with Amani’s work, and is a part of the Sewing Workshop, Class of 2018, thanks to our Action Kivu family of donors. Hope has been restored through living in community with the other teen mothers, and in her sisterhood of sewing students and the graduates who are modeling the way to earning income and creating a new life.
“Being here has taken me out of danger,” Sara told us. “Being with others has helped me balance my thoughts and feelings,” Sara told us. She had been desperate, but now, “living with others in community gives me hope, I can focus on tomorrow.”
This is a marked difference from when we began Action Kivu. On a visit to Congo in 2011, when we asked the first cohorts of students in the Sewing Workshop what they hoped to do with their new machine and skills, the question was often met with silence. Action Kivu’s Founding Director Amani Matabaro paused in his translation, and explained, for most of these girls and women, they do not know how to hope for the future. They need to focus on survival for today: how will they feed their children? Will they be safe tonight?
Your investment in Action Kivu’s community building work is changing lives, opening the door for the women and girls to step through with their brilliance and determination, bringing back hope and planning for a brighter future for themselves and their children.
The impact of your support is palpable in Congo. It is seen in the smiles of the women as they work. It is heard in their voices as they share their stories, hopes, and plans with ease. Please share these stories with others in your community, to help us continue to provide opportunities for peace and hope to flourish!