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World Toilet Day: Would You Donate your Birthday for a Toilet?

It’s World Toilet Day! Why, you might ask, is a World Toilet Day necessary?  It warrants its hashtag because being toilettes provides potential for outbreaks of life-threatening diseases like cholera.

Yesterday we announced the amazing, fantastic news that Robin Wright launched a sleepwear line and campaign to raise money for the women of Congo, donating 100% of the profits to both Action Kivu’s work and another amazing organization, Synergie!

It makes you want to be like Robin Wright, right?  Here’s another opportunity to help.  First, check out how Robin Wright donated the funds for the latrine at the Peace Market in Mumosoho in 2011. On our visit in January 2012, we witnessed the completion of the project, and the careful chiseling of the sign to honor “Mama Robin” for her generosity.

Next, think about how you might take your toilet for granted.  There are 2.5 billion people who are toilet-less, and we are looking for $8,500 in funds to build latrines for a few hundred of them. There are 475 elementary and secondary school children at the Burhembo school in eastern Congo, for whom the current “facilities” are holes in the ground, surrounded by insubstantial walls. As it is now the rainy season, these toilets are a safety hazard as well as a public health risk, when the girls fall in and get hurt.

It’s not a sexy subject, but it’s a vital one for the kids in Congo. If you’re interested in helping to raise funds for the school kids at Burhembo, consider donating your birthday – instead of friends taking you for dinner or lavishing you with gifts, they can give to Action Kivu, and kids can have safe toilets, all because of you!  Email Rebecca Snavely at actionkivu@gmail.com to connect.

 

Happy New Year from the Kids in Congo to You!

The Christmas Eve celebration started with a song led by Arsene Mudasa, who at 9 dreams of becoming a priest to implore peace in the Congo.  Arsene is from a family of four and is the only one able to be in school because he is in the ABFEK — Action Kivu — Jewish World Watch Education Sponsorship program. Arsene told Amani, ”I had no hope of what to wear tomorrow ! Christmas is a big day, now I will go to church  and after that I will come back home and spend time with my brothers.”

On Christmas Eve, 2013, thanks to your support, ABFEK, our partner in eastern Congo, gathered together all the kids we support to celebrate Christmas and the new year.

With the wonderful support and grant from Jewish World Watch, these kids are now attending school regularly, without fear of being kicked out for lack of school fees. And with the money donated to this Christmas event from Action Kivu partners, ABFEK bought shoes, clothes, and snacks for the kids who have been orphaned or lost a parent. Each and every single child received a pair of shoes, a blouse and skirt for girls and a shirt or T-shirt and a pair of shorts for the boys, as well as a sandwich and a bag of nuts.

Amani’s example inspires not only those of us who support his work, but the kids he works with and for: Rehema Ludunge is 12 and from a family of eight children and wants at all cost to become like Amani. ”When I graduate from School I will work for ABFEK. Christmas and the New year should mean Peace in the Congo.”

Safariu Byamungu is 10 years old, from a family of three children, and told Amani, “I want to become a medical doctor. This  Christmas gives me hope! I did not know where I could get clothes and shoes from. I am so happy and I am sure 2014 should bring Peace.”

Irene Bashimbe, 16 years old, should already be in secondary school but, unable to afford the school fees, has missed years of school until the time ABFEK enrolled her in the program. A very courageous girl from a family of 12 children, she is the only one in school. ”I want to become a teacher and educate other children. I am so happy and proud of ABFEK giving us new Hope for this new upcoming year.”

Happy New Year, from Congo to you!

Holiday Giving: Clothes and Shoes for Kids in Congo

For Christmas this year, we’d like to give clothes and shoes to the kids we work with in Congo, that they will wear for the whole year. It’s the only Christmas gift they are likely to receive, and it takes just $850 to make 250 kids’ lives a little brighter. Can you give toward that this week?

Visit: https://actionkivu.org/donate.html

You can donate via PayPal or send a check to the address on the link, and note (“to seller” on PayPal) “Christmas Clothes.”

Every dollar makes a difference!  Can you give $5, $10, $15, or more to help us reach our $850 goal?

We’ll post photos and stories from the day the kids receive their shirts, shoes, and pants.  Thankful for your generosity this holiday season, that we can provide these things!  100% of your donation will go directly to Congo, minus nominal banking fees.


Back to School: Brigitte’s Dream of Education and Rights of Women

In honor of International Day of the Girl, and the power of education, we’re thrilled to share Brigitte’s story:

“Now I have a home, the Women’s Center is my new safe home. I feel safe here. I am in school now, it was a dream. I was forced to cut off school when I was 14 years, I was sexually abused, now I have a 2 year old son. 2 years ago, I could not dream to be back in school. Being at the Women’s Center gives me hope. I want to [study] to become a lawyer and defend the rights of of women. I am 16 years, am in grade 3 Secondary.” ~Brigitte

Brigitte heads to class in her school uniform.

Your partnership with Action Kivu makes these stories possible. We still have 91 children, who were in school, and now not able to afford to continue, who were formerly supported by another organization that recently folded. If you can, please visit our page to start a monthly donation of just $10/month to send one of these kids back to school, and give them the hope Brigitte has!

Primary school fees, including uniforms, copy books, pencils and slates = $6.25 a month, or $75.00 a year per student.

Secondary school fees, including uniforms, copy books, pencils and slates = $8.00 a month, or $95.00 a year per student.

And huge thanks to all our current monthly donors who support the kids and women in eastern Congo!

From dusty|muddy roads to successful small business: Looking for a micro-loan partner in Congo!

When Action Kivu’s team visited Congo, these roads were muddy, rutted, and dangerous. During the dry season, they’re dusty and dangerous.  Women walk them from Mumosho to Bukavu, their backs bearing loads of up to 50 kilograms of charcoal or wood, with the hopes but no guarantees of selling the goods in city’s markets.  Walking alongside trucks and often in the dark of dusk, they are constantly at risk.

Action Kivu’s partner ABFEK wants to keep them in their own villages, working in their own small businesses with the help of micro-loans.With the loans, the women could grown and sell fruits and vegetables, sell banana beer, woven baskets, fish, bread, palm oil, and more, at the Mumosho Peace Market.

A pilot micro-loan program ABFEK conducted with 50 women was a great success, and we want to find a long-term partnership to provide more micro-loans to the over 130 women who are interested in starting a business. 



From our partner:

Women in these villages are often the primary source of income for their families, and are the most affected by the ongoing conflict in the region, subjected to rape by gunmen and domestic violence. There are many widows, and many men have left the community for mining areas located far from the Mumosho district. Women have been confronting the legacy of rape for their entire lives in eastern Congo.

The women are extremely poor, with no sources of income. Many are war widows and many others suffer from domestic violence for no other reason than their gender.  They have children but cannot afford to send them to school, to feed them, clothe them, or give them a home, and in that context, there is no hope to save any money while trying to meet basic needs.

The women who will receive the micro-loans are already trained by ABFEK on micro-finance and worked previously with Resolve Network; they already know how to choose and manage an income generating activity, design a business plan and manage a loan. ABFEK organized a micro-loan pilot project in 2011 – 2012 in which 50 women received micro-loans after a two week training on general micro-finance basics. Their loans ranged between $30USD and $250USD based on their business plans and experience.

After 12 months, 99% of the women participants successfully repaid their loans, working in cooperatives of 10 women. A weekly meeting was held for the group members to share successes and failures in their businesses.

At the end of the pilot project, the women were able to make remarkable changes in their everyday lives which motivated so many others to join the program.

  • Some women were able to fix roofs of their homes, from grass roofs to tin roofs.
  • Some succeeded in providing a morning meal for their kids before sending them to school, which was never possible before the program.
  • Others bought domestic animals to raise, others learned to live together in peace, bridging the divide between the neighboring Rwandans and Congolese. There is a Rwandan woman living in Mumosho who joined the program and had the opportunity for integration, and felt accepted by the group members.
  • Other program participants gained value and respect in their daily family and community lives, as they could now contribute economically, and were able to take care of themselves, their kids, families and community.  Women were able to contribute whenever a community member needed help during social activities such as weddings, funerals, and baptisms.
  • After being abandoned by her husband, one participant was hopeless, as even her parents were about to stop supporting her on her and her four children. When she joined the program and started contributing, she was accepted and fully reintegrated into her family.  There are many more examples like this, and the women are eagerly waiting to begin again.

Do you have connections to a micro-loan program?  Please let us know how we might partner by emailing us at actionkivu@gmail.com.   And know that your donations go directly to the work on the ground, supporting women like those featured here in entrepreneurial trainings to prepare them to contribute to the community, creating a sustainable cycle of education and work!
Read more about the people with whom you partner through Action Kivu:

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