From Nabirugu*, one of the women in the sewing collective that is supported by your donations.
“My name is Nabirugu*. I am 21 years old. I have no father. I joined the ABFEK centre 10 months ago and today I am ready to go and start my own sewing workshop based on the skills I have [learned]. Today I am able to measure, cut fabrics and join them. I can now make dresses, skirts, a pair of shorts, pants, and blouses. Isn’t this progress? I learned to use sewing equipments in this centre, before that time I had never used a pair of scissors to cut fabrics or a tape measure. I am very proud of my training in this centre. Now I have hope and confidence. I hope for success in my life. If I succeed to get my own sewing machine, I can start a small business such as making school pupils uniforms,make [outfits] from fabrics when there is a wedding ceremony, make my own clothes without paying as I was doing before. We need to start learning embroidery and then people will not be taking their fabrics to Bukavu if they need embroidery. I am very happy and I thank everyone who has donated his money to provide us with the sewing equipment we are using in this centre.”
(*Names are changed to protect the identity of women in the workshops.)
Do you philanthrop? (Philanthropize? I’m always attempting to coin new verbs.) Philanthroper.com is sort of like those daily deal sites, but instead, they give you the option to do good, one dollar a day, if you choose. And today, Friday, July 22nd, they’re featuring Action Kivu!
“Passing the buck” is generally not a flattering phrase, so we’re re-defining it, and asking you to pass along a buck to the women and children of eastern Congo. $1. 100 pennies. You’ve got that to give, right? Log in at Philanthroper.com, give a buck and tell your friends. (If you missed our day and, naturally, you want to philanthropize for Action Kivu, you can always donate here. In fact, you can make it a recurring donation — 4$ / month, the cost of a latte, will send one child to school.)
Since we’re volunteers here in the U.S., every bit of your donation goes to the work on the ground in the Congo. (PayPal takes a tiny percentage, as does the bank fee for wiring funds.) Here’s a glimpse at where your money goes: to teach women who are victims of the ongoing conflict and violence how to sew, and embroider! Last year, with your generous donations, Amani bought an embroidery machine for the students at the Bukavu sewing collective. And just this week, Amani informed us that with the partnership and grant from the Rotary club, ABFEK bought another embroidery machine for the Mumosho sewing center. Amani’s wife Amini is training the advanced students in this art; as the demand for embroidered fabric and clothing is higher, the women will be able to earn more money with this skill.
|Photos from the Bukavu Center|
The first thing we discovered when we met Amani was that he’s a man of many dreams with one overarching vision, to give hope and a future to the women and children of his community in eastern Congo. Then, he told us of a place that he envisioned as a “Peace Market,” a safe, communal space along the border, where the Congolese and Rwandans could come together and work alongside each other towards peace and a stronger, healthier economy.
Through ABFEK’s partnership with Empower Congo Women, Falling Whistles, and a generous donation from the Rotary Club of Montecito*, Amani’s dream of a Peace Market in Mumosho has become a reality. Last weekend, he witnessed his vision become literally solidified, as the community that supports the project traced their names into wet concrete, to mark the spot and space where hope can grow.
We’re so excited to witness the changes that are growing out of Amani’s visions. From the following email and the abundance of exclamation marks, he’s pretty excited as well:
“The Market project is gradually being completed!!! We opened it last Saturday but we still need to do latrines and stalls inside. So many people came to attend!!! Children are also very happy,they told us a market was a real need in the community. After the opening ceremony,we asked people and the organizations who donated and who want to donate to sign in the concrete, and the reason why you’ll see AK (Action Kivu) on the banners and in the concrete is because you have been supporting ABFEK and they implemented the project!!!! This project is so important that it will help the women in our sewing centres to sell the fabrics they make. The plans are: while school children are on vacation, the women in the sewing centres have to make school uniforms for the kids and will sell some in this market!!!”
To all of you who support Amani, the women and children in eastern Congo via Action Kivu in spirit and generous funds, thank you. YOU ARE making a difference.
|Peace Market under construction – supervised by Mark of the Montecito Rotary Club, an engineer who oversaw the project.|
(*Read more about the Peace Market and the other generous Rotary Club donors including Santa Maria Rotary, D.5240, Korea D.3270, and Rotary Club of Wakefield RI, as well as private donors at Empower Congo Women.)
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.