DR Congo: Working for Women And Peace, Amid Fears of War
By Bahati M. Valerie & Mugisho Ndabuli Theophile, Co-founders, COFAPRI, July 2012
Gaining Trust and Respect Through Courage and Collaboration
People are living great fear of the war that is ravaging North Kivu province.
Despite increasing dangers, COFAPRI continues to make much progress in the communities where it is based. Through their courage and dedication, COFAPRI coordinators have gained the trust, respect and admiration of the local communities.
Our coordinators travel long distances, on foot, in the mountainous villages of the DRC, to be with COFAPRI members and spread our mission to support and empower women and girls, and end the cycle of violence.
The Catholic church also commended COFAPRI's work, saying that it demonstrates great courage. And as well, the churches in the areas have started talking about us in the area. The Catholic church aired a message in a mass that there is an organisation that is doing a lot towards helping women and girls understand nonviolent ways of handling conflicts and other issues.
The head priest of Cibimbi Parish invited our coordinator of the village in which his parish is located, to come and discuss COFAPRI with him. The church told our coordinator that if we are working jointly, this can better develop the area, since we will be many hands that are working for the common cause for the same people.
Youth Help Widows Renovate Their Homes
Very recently, our coordinators informed us that they are intensifying contacts with people in their neighborhoods in order to sensitize them about COFAPRI. They also tell them about our main activities of supporting women and girls.
In a particular case, the youth are helping widows to renovate their huts.
In this dry season, this activity can be easily done because the youth can easily get thatches to cover the huts with. We were told by one of our coordinators that one of the widows whose house was renovated said:
“God did well to bring COFAPRI here; since myhusband died I had never got my hut repaired, but today, I cansleep now well and I do not fear when rain comes to be wet inside it.
I have no child but if I had one I should send him to work with you.
May God bless you and the person who helped you to think about us”
Sewing for a Sustainable Future
Bahati is being trained in sewing at the centre in Kigali for three months; once she has gained some skills, she will go to the DRC in August 2012, to share the skills she gained with ten girls and women from different villages where COFAPRI is located.
We saw that this training is of paramount importance to develop the women members of COFAPRI. Employing someone to train them would be costly for us; we do not have financial means to bear the cost.
The ten women and girls who will be trained will also go and train the members of their respective villages.