It’s spring and Action Kivu’s programs in Congo are growing!
The new Mumosho Women’s Center is up and running, and offering a new outlook on life for the women taking part in the classes offered there. “What we like the best with this Center is that we are offered free trainings whereby we acquire skills, and the men who abused us are now going to respect us. Being here means no longer being worthless.” And from Amani: “Sewing, farming, literacy: the women are so proud they are able to write their names, read and write a few sentences!”
|Writing practice in Action Kivu’s Literacy Program. Photo courtesy Emma O’Brien – emmaobrien.com|
But we can’t grow without you – and the best way for you to support the women and children in eastern Congo is with a monthly donation. Under Amani’s leadership, the community has so many ideas of how to learn and grow and thrive, but they need our support. With every dollar going to the work on the ground, your tax deductible donation of $10, $20, $50 … $100, $200 per month means that you’re investing in a better future for the people of eastern Congo.
Planting Seeds of Hope
What will your kids be doing to fill the lazy days of summer? The kids in ActionKivu’s Education Sponsorship Program in eastern Congo will be on vacation starting July 2nd to August 30, but have no camps to attend or pools to swim in. With your help, over 130 school kids who are able to get an education because of your partnership, will grow vegetables and flowers this summer, and the harvest will belong to the children. Planting seeds is in itself a symbol of hope – holding in your hand a small, shriveled brown seed that holds the possibility of life, of a flower to open slowly to the sun and add a bit of beauty to the day, of a ripe vegetable to bite into after tending the plant and watching it grow. In groups of 10 to 15, kids from different schools and different villages will form their own summer camp, where they will learn lessons of growing food as well as sharing stories and making new friends. Their camp counselor is a local woman who studied rural development and will guide the kids in agriculture lessons as they meet for lessons at the Mumosho Women’s Center, and grow their gardens three days a week.
The Community School Garden’s seeds will cost $1350 for the whole summer, plus $200 / month for the supervisor’s salary, at three months, totaling $1950.00. The supervisor will start work in June, preparing the seed beds, from which the kids will transplant the seedlings to each community garden. The project gives them hope and a sense of responsibility and success, as they work together, investing in the future of their land, and contributing toward feeding themselves and their families.
Mumosho Women’s Center
With your help, we will reimburse the community who gave talent and materials to complete the new Mumosho Women’s Center. A beautiful, safe space that now houses Action Kivu’s multitude of programs, including literacy classes, job and skills training workshops like sewing, embroidery, soap-making and more, the center also provides a gathering place for the community to address social problems such as domestic violence or women’s rights. Empower Congo Women partnered with Amani to help build the center, and started a Teen Mother’s 12-month program, while Action Kivu is partnering with the newly formed Peace Exchange to start a Fair Trade program, where the top graduates of the sewing workshops will create fantastic products for you to purchase! The outstanding cost from finishing the Women’s Center remains at $8,200.00.
|Mom and child – Mumosho. Photo courtesy Emma O’Brien – emmaobrien.com|
It’s a very exciting season of growth, but we can’t do it without your partnership. We need to meet ongoing basic needs: to pay the program instructors, hire a program assistant, expand our education assistance so more girls go to school, and purchase kits for the graduates to can start their own small businesses. Visit “how you can help” and click on the drop down menu to choose a monthly donation amount here.
Giving shows the women and kids that their stories matter. Giving reminds us that we’re all connected, that what we do with our time and money impacts others, so we’re all sharing a better world.
“It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one destiny, affects all indirectly.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.
Please share with friends, colleagues, strangers, the woman on the subway platform! A great way to introduce our work is through introducing Amani via The Enough Project’s beautiful video:
(Many thanks to Emma O’Brien for the use of her gorgeous photos from a recent trip to Mumosho with Amani!)
Happy International Women’s Day! What are you doing to celebrate? To reflect? To give to continue the movement of equality and opportunity for the women and girls in your life?
Today is a great day to practice generosity, whether that’s giving to support Action Kivu in our work sending girls to school and teaching women valuable life and job skills, or writing a note to encourage a woman you know.
The writer behind DailyOm shares about Giving with Joy, that “Today, courting happiness can be as easy as incorporating a philosophy of generosity into your existence.
“When we give others the gift of self-sufficiency by helping them prosper, we simultaneously give ourselves the joyous gift of knowing that we have contributed to the advancement of humanity as a whole. Our lives feel emptiest when we feel we have little to give the world in the way of charitable contributions. Yet by simply helping others whenever we can, we become part of something far larger than our individuality. Any isolation we might have felt disappears and is replaced by a wonderfully potent sense of personal satisfaction. Our efforts, no matter how small, remind us that we are, in fact, capable of making a difference using only the tools and resources we have in our possession. You will feel that your life is laden with gifts today when you share your abundance with all who are in need of aid or solace.”
“When I think of the word “beauty,” some of the faces of those that I love come into my mind. When I think of beauty I also think of beautiful landscapes that I know. Then I think of acts of such lovely kindness that have been done to me, by people that cared for me, in bleak unsheltered times or when I needed to be loved and minded. I also think of those unknown people who are the real heroes for me, who you never hear about, who hold out on lines — on frontiers of awful want and awful situations and manage somehow to go beyond the given impoverishments and offer gifts of possibility and imagination and seeing.”
~John O’Donohue, from “The Inner Landscape of Beauty” (Listen to the full piece at On Being.)
(Photo by Cate Haight)
“The vehemence of emotion, stirred by grief and love within me, was claiming mastery, and struggling for full sway; and asserting a right to predominate: to overcome, to live, rise, and reign at last; yes, — and to speak.”
~ Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
As we listened to Safi softly answer our questions in Swahili, I remembered how important it is, that moment you speak up, you find your voice, discover not only what you want to say, but what you need to say.
|Safi, at the Bukavu Sewing Workshop|
On our visit to Congo, we met more and more women in workshops and classes, in the fields and at their homes, and asked to hear their stories, not of rape or abuse, but of daily life, daily struggles, and hopes for the next day to come. We began to hear individual voices growing stronger in clarity and volume, and the shared voice of place, of community began to form a song.
Safi, 17 years old, had little to do before she discovered the Bukavu Sewing Workshop. Her father had abandoned her family, and she was too poor to have gone to school. Her face brightened as she shared with us how much she loves her mother, and likes to cook and help take care of her mom when she returns from her back-breaking work of transporting goods and wares across the nearby border to Rwanda.
When Safi discovered the Bukavu Sewing Workshop, she found a place where she could learn skills that will help her mother. Young and still shy with us, strangers to her, we saw how sharing her story made her stronger, and wanted to share it with you. When asked what she would tell you, partners of Action Kivu in the U.S. and around the world, she asked that God might pour blessings on you, and said, “We will never forget them in our lives.”
|A woman carrying a load of bricks, for which she will be paid approximately $1 USD for a day’s work.|
(Photo credits: 1. Safi sharing her story, photographed by Cate Haight, 2 & 3 Women working, photographed by Amani Matabaro)