Category Page: Action Kivu

Amani’s Message of Gratitude for 2018 and Action Kivu Year in Review

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,

Amani Matabaro

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!

 

 

Reflecting on a Year and the Meaning of Life

The purpose of life is to discover your gift.
The meaning of life is to give your gift away.

A 3-foot square image of this quote, attributed to Pablo Picasso, was propped up in a shop window on a busy street in Atwater Village. It was likely intended to lead one into the shop where, so inspired by the quote, you would also discover gifts to purchase for the holiday season, gifts to give away to your friends and family. The meaning of life, or at least the holiday season.

The power of the quote stopped me in my tracks, and I found a shady spot on the sidewalk to copy down the words in my phone, tears welling up in my eyes as I thought about the purpose and meaning of life, and all that everyone gives for the work we support in Congo.

I may have been moved to tears, but my training to research sources took me to the Quote Investigator, where I discovered that this particular one has been attributed both to Picasso as well as to the great bard, Shakespeare. However, there is no evidence to link it to either artist. Instead, the website discovered a longer version of the quote written by psychiatrist David Viscott in his 1993 book “Finding Your Strength in Difficult Times: A Book of Meditations.” He wrote:

The purpose of life is to discover your gift.
The work of life is to develop it.
The meaning of life is to give your gift away.

Gifts wrapped, given, and opened, this quote stayed with me as I reflected on a year drawing to an end, and the anticipation of all a new year holds. When I think about the changes I’ve seen since co-founding Action Kivu in 2010, when Cate Haight and I began reaching out to all of you to support Amani Matabaro’s work in Congo, I think of Francine, whom I met on my last visit to Mumosho, DRC this past February.

I first encountered Francine at the Community Center, where she was practicing the art and craft of basket weaving, wanting to add another skill to her business that she started after she graduated the Sewing Workshop in 2016. Asking if I could see her sewing studio, she invited us to her family’s house, where she had set up shop in a room of her own.

The sewing machine Francine received when she graduated Action Kivu’s Sewing Workshop has given her a new life. The pedal-powered machine is stationed by the door, where the sun provides the light for her work during the day. “I sew my own clothes, I sew for customers and earn the money to help pay school fees for my nephews and nieces, brothers and sisters.”

Francine laughs easily and often, her wide smile breaking out just before offering her truth and insight: “Before, it was the man who gives you anything you need. Now, I can provide for myself. Now, when I get married, my husband will respect me,” Francine explains. “After many years, a husband might leave you,” she says. “But even if a man leaves me, I will continue my life. My children will feel that they still have a father, as I will act as a mother and a father, providing for them.”

Your partnership with Action Kivu and the women and kids of Congo isn’t just changing lives, it is changing the very culture of Congo. As these women embrace their equality and power, they will raise up a new generation to do the same.

As we reflect on the amazing changes we witnessed in 2017, from our farm program giving the land and education for 85 women to learn the latest organic farming techniques from a university student and feed their families and community, to our Sewing Workshop graduating 42 skilled entrepreneurs this December, to our Literacy Program welcoming women denied an education from ages 15 to mid-60s, we celebrate an amazing year filled with challenges and successes.

We look forward to 2018, a year in which the Congo Peace School will finish construction thanks to the seed money from The Dillon Henry Foundation and a generous donation from the Pour Les Femmes fund. In the coming year, we will continue to raise funding for the additional costs of furnishings, a computer lab, and operating costs to educate the future leaders of Congo in peace and nonviolence.

The purpose of life is to discover your gift.
The work of life is to develop it.
The meaning of life is to give your gift away.

A heartfelt thank you to YOU, our dear Action Kivu family, for giving away your gifts of generosity that make it possible for these women and kids to discover their gifts, develop them, and find meaning in giving them away as they go out and change our world.

Rebecca Snavely
Executive Director, Action Kivu

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. We are grateful for all you do to invest in this life and culture changing work!

As a Girl: Furaha’s Girl Power Goals for Education

13 years old, Furaha just finished grade 3 of elementary school. She walks about a half hour from school to home, where she lives with her grandparents and her two sisters and three brothers. After school, she helps out at home with the dishes, drawing water, and collecting firewood for cooking when they have food.

Furaha loves going to school: “As a girl, I want to be educated and help my family and country.” Like many of her classmates, her passion is for Congo to be a place of peace. Her hero is Amani, our visionary leader and community builder, whose name means peace.

When Furaha finishes school, she’d like to be an elementary school principal.

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Invest in the future of peace and education through Action Kivu’s community-based programs today!

 

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Cikwanine’s Power for a Career in Congo: Education

At 16, Cikwanine just completed grade 2 of secondary school. With four more grades to complete, Cikwanine is excited to start back to school this September. It is common for girls to be a few years behind the normal age for a grade in Congo, where sexism and extreme poverty both play parts in keeping girls out of school. Thanks to the support of Action Kivu partners, that’s not stopping Cikwanine.

Cikwanine wants to be a member of the Parliament, to positively influence the politics of her country.

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Invest in a brighter future for Cikwanine and us all! We are all connected. Consider becoming a monthly donor to change the lives of the kids of Congo.

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A Boy and His Goat: Walking in Congo

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Action Kivu’s My Goat is Your Goat program not only gives families an animal that provides income and good standing in the community, it creates paths for conversation and community building between people of different tribes.

Read more here!

Invest today in programs that find community-based solutions to meet the needs of the people of Congo.

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