Meet Agisha! 9 years old, Agisha’s favorite subject last year at Burhembo Elementary School was math. He walks 45 minutes to school, and then back home, where he lives with his grandparents and two sisters. At home, he helps his grandparents by washing dishes, sweeping the house, and drawing water. “If we have food, I eat,” he tells Christian, Action Kivu’s Education Assistance Director.
Agisha is happy to be in school, as he thinks studies are very important in life. His hero is Amani Matabaro, the visionary leader behind all that Action Kivu does in Congo. He wants people in the U.S. to know that Congo is a big country, with many conflicts. Agisha is excited to start grade 3 of elementary school this year, pursuing his dream of being a pastor.
When you invest in the job-training, education, food security and health services that Action Kivu provides in Congo, you change the lives of kids like Agisha, giving their families the means to provide food and education that are the fuel for the kids to flourish, mentally, physically, emotionally!
It’s Action Kivu’s birthday today, and to celebrate being 6 years old, we want to thank each and every one of you who has partnered with us and invested in the women, children, and communities of Congo!
Your generosity continues to make a meaningful impact in the lives of the people in Congo. Action Kivu began partnering with Amani Matabaro and his non-profit ABFEC in 2010. For five years before that, Amani / ABFEC had been operating a Sewing Workshop and Education Assistance Program out of his own pocket. In 2005, there were 7 women in the Sewing Workshop, and 15 children being sent to school. After launching Action Kivu and growing our family of donors, we have now graduated 236 girls and women from the Sewing Workshop, giving them the machines, necessary tools, and financial literacy to start their own small businesses, and are registering new students for the Class of 2017 now! With a grant from Jewish World Watch and your donations, over 400 children are now enrolled in school.
With your monthly donations and annual gifts, we’ve grown from those two programs to a variety of educational, vocational, and community building programs: 245 girls and women are in the Literacy Program, over 100 women and girls are enrolled in the Vocational Training Programs including basket weaving and bread baking. More than 100 families have been given goats and the animal husbandry support to breed them, to give back the kid to the next family awaiting a goat. Goats are a symbol of friendship and deepening connection, and a part of the circle of organic farming in our Shared Farm / Organic Food for All program, in which 180 women and girls are learning to farm, and growing healthy food for their families and to sell at the market.
With your support, we send a stipend for a nurse to teach HIV / AIDS awareness courses, family planning, and education to prevent and treat common diseases like malaria.
Without you, our Action Kivu family, none of this would be possible. Amani sends this message from Congo to honor the 6th Anniversary of our partnership:
“I’d like to thank everyone who has so far supported the work we do here via Action Kivu! That is the way to build a beloved community, to give hope to those whose hope has been stolen by the forces of evil. The support of our work is light in darkness, and communities feel a sense of worth that someone cares, and takes action.”
Visit our programs through a beautiful video filmed and edited by Hélène Estèves:
Thank you! Merci! Asante sana! We are grateful for you being part of our family, playing a part in creating the beloved community, taking action to invest in women and children and a brighter, more peaceful world for us all.
Read more about the impact of your giving:
There’s been a flurry of media attention surrounding the Democratic Republic of the Congo this past week, with newly released statistics regarding the number of rapes in 2006 / 2007. “A study released this week in a U.S. medical journal concludes that more than 400,000 women are being raped a year, with between 17 percent to 40 percent of women in the east reporting sexual assault during their lifetime,” writes Jason Stearns.
Reading all the statistics, old and new, can be overwhelming, which is why we’re excited to share the new projects, growth and personal stories that we’re hearing from Amani this year. Via ABFEK, partnered with Action Kivu, Amani has been working tirelessly, with an abundance of passionate energy, to serve the women and children who are victims of the ongoing conflict.
Here’s what your donations are doing in eastern Congo:
From Amani: “The sewing project is growing since the time ABFEK got new sewing equipment from Action Kivu, USA. New women participants coming from here and there want to get registered and become part of the project. Given this, a graduation event is prepared for June 2011, where about 15 women are to graduate from the program and start their own business based on the skills they got from ABFEK sewing collectives. To make sure the graduation ceremony is a success and the impact is sustainable at the community level, ABFEK needs to provide the women graduating sewing kits for them to start their own workshop in their respective villages and streets.”
Amani: “This school year, 2010-2011, thanks to the support of Action Kivu USA, ABFEK has been able to provide support to 100 school children by helping them get re-enrolled in school. All of these school children are so happy to be attending classes with no fear of being expelled for lack of school fees. This has positively impacted the results of these school children in school as stated by the Musisi elementary school principal:
“‘The children ABFEK is sponsoring are now doing better in school if we compare their results when they were getting expelled for lack of school fees and today, time when they are calmly and peacefully attending all the classes, most of them are very intelligent kids but they are only unlucky to be orphans and poor. In my opinion, ABFEK could take all the kids if possible. May God bless whoever is helping ABFEK implement this incredible work and this new generation has to take advantage of it.’
“The challenge is still big since there’s a great number of children who cannot go to school for lack of school fees, school kits, food and medical care ….many families in the South Kivu province are unable to meet the basic needs of the household and this causes lots of damages, mostly on the lives of children.”
Amani shares the story of a 10-year-old boy, whose big smile belies his frustration and sadness that his parents are unable to send him to school:
“Look at me, I am very dirty but if I were in school I’d be wearing clean cloths but as my parents are so poor, they cannot afford sending me to school, we even difficultly get food to eat. I do not hope for anything in the future as I am not in school but I wish I were in school like other children like me. I am not happy to have given up on school when I was in grade 2.”
“There are families with a great number of children but ABFEK is financially limited and hence unable to pay for every single child.” ~Amani
I Am Over
A world that could allow, has allowed, continues to allow 400 thousand women, 23,000 women, or one woman to be raped anywhere, anytime of any day in the Congo.
The women of Congo are over it too. When I was there last month they told me they were going to begin a story strike and stop telling about their rapes. They want peace. They are not entertainment. Their suffering is not for consumption. …
I Am Over It.
No more studies of raped women
No more statistics
No more breaking news that is 14 years old
No more pretending you didn’t know
Pass the Obama law
Get Rwanda and Uganda and Burundi and Angola out of Congo
With diplomatic pressure
Train women soldiers and police officers
Support local Congolese women’s groups on the ground –
Not with directions and agendas but with money
Let It Be Over.
Make noise, make change – support Amani’s work today. Every. Dollar. Counts. $4, the price of a latte, will send a child to school for a month. We pass on to you the overwhelming gratitude that Amani, his family, the kids he sends to school and the women he helps educate feel for your support from so far away. In the face of the overwhelming statistics, these things matter.