By Bahati Valérie, co-founder of COFAPRI
Congolese Females Action for Promoting Rights and Development (COFAPRI)
"I walk long distances to reach these women as there are no roads in the DRC villages, and there is always the risk of meeting rebels and fighters along the way."
I am originally from Bukavu, in the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), but currently based in Kigali, Rwanda.
I am married, and am the mother of two children. Mugisho, my husband, and I have set up a project named Congolese Female Action for Promoting Rights and Development (COFAPRI).
Visiting Remote Villages in the DRC
Currently, the DRC is a very dangerous place, particularly for women and girls, because they are being raped massively and abused in their homes. Despite intense insecurity, I cross the border every month to meet the women and girls we serve in the remote villages of the DRC.
Most of these remote villages are occupied by the Interahamwe, the Rwandan militia who committed genocide in Rwanda in 1994. In the past decade, this area of the world has been living consecutive wars that have caused horrendous harm to women and girls.
Helping the Survivors
COFAPRI is helping these women and girls who are suvivors of war and domestic violence. We have organized them into groups, and they are raising animals -- a way to support themselves in the future.
Sponsoring the Education of Young Girls
We are also sponsoring some young girls to attend primary school.
Offering Help and Encouragement, Despite the Risks
Although there is a lot of insecurity and danger that penetrates DRC's remote villages today, I feel it is necessary to be close to these women and girls in order to give them [my] heart and encourage them.
They need my presence to show that even if there is instability, we are together -- and we want to work hand-in-hand, since we know their problems.
I know this is risky, but I have to be with them and do something for them.
I walk long distances to reach these women as there are no roads in the DRC villages, and there is always the risk of meeting rebels and fighters along the way.