By Mugisho Ndabuli Theophile, Founder/Exec. Director, COFAPRI. March 2015.
Supporters Help Make it Happen
The Congolese Females Action for Promoting Rights and Development (COFAPRI) is a grassroots organization working with rural women in villages in Eastern DR Congo. These women are the victims of rape and domestic violence, and are becoming empowered by their involvement in income-generating activities, and also learning about their rights.
COFAPRI also helps children born of rape gain access to a school education.
The organization began in Nyangezi in 2009. In December, 2014, Bahati Valerie, the Executive Secretary, opened a new branch in Katana. In Nyangezi, several activities have been implemented and are running well.
Last year, COFAPRI received support from the co-founders, and friends from all corners of the world to ‘make it happen’.
The prestigious MBA Kelley School has helped the women launch small businesses.
"One hand is not enough to beat a drum. This school has done a lot to help these women via COFAPRI. The efforts they have put in this means a lot to all the women.
From scratch, the women are now feeding their families and I think this gives them power and pride at the same time. They are becoming self -reliant little by little. But still, they need more support to make sure what they are doing is really sustainable and reaches out all communities in the area.’"
Bahati Valerie, Co-founder and Executive Secretary of COFAPRI
"Kelley is good; ha ha ha ha I can sell. Me!?
We appreciated this support from them. As today, I can do this small business I feel happy and so I can buy enough food, buy soaps and shoes, even sugar….that is a wonderful thing. COFAPRI is helpful to us because thanks to it, we are getting friends all over the world and these are helping us a lot. We feel morally and materially supported, but we still have a lot to do.’"
COFAPRI member and beneficiary of the funds donated by MBA team from the Kelley School of Business
Empowerment for Healing
We are proud to report that women are now sewing, knitting, and operating small businesses, which helps them move toward self-reliance, self-empowerment, and self-motivation. By discussing ways to heal from the moral wounds of violence, the different circles of members give support and learn from one another.
This healing has a better chance of success if the women are active in activities that can empower them for their futures.
"The team is something we should not neglect; it has made us reach where we could not before. In different circles, we teach our neighbours; they also teach us. Here we learns about development and human rights. This is reciprocal.
No teacher and no students; all of us are both. And again, we achieve more in teams – those who know help others to move forward and this is why today we doing very well; we are sewing, knitting and as our children are going to school; this shows us we will reach far.
Far because we are in committed small families of united people who know where they are going. We alone would not do all these things but thanks to our friends and our larger family, we are moving step after step.
Thank you, the people there, who are helping us to self empower and to be self reliant."
Education Changes Lives
COFAPRI is also making great strides forward with children’s education. One supporter, Anne Seery, ‘made it happen’ for the children victims of rape and domestic abuse by sacrificing her key needs in order to help. The children received school materials and fees for term one, thanks to her, which they greatly appreciated.
"We will always thank all the people, the people of good heart who are helping us to get school education. This is really changing our lives. Without these people, we would be nothing. Helping us to go to school is a good thing we must be proud of because this helps us make our future and that of our families.
We now feel we are like other children and even more than some, because they are now envying us as we wake up every morning to take the way to school. We cannot thank enough all those people who are supporting us, like Anne Seery and all the others you have told us [about].
We love them as they love us. We send them many, many hugs and friendly smiles. May they all be blessed for their generosity."
Strength in Unity
The ultimate goal of our endeavour is to improve the lives of these rural DR Congo women, who are victims of rape and domestic violence. There is strength in unity, and many hands make the work lighter.
Working together with clear understanding, planning, and the commitment of friends, local leaders, partner organizations, and the women themselves, moves us closer to our main goal.
Reaching out to additional areas creates an awareness by more people who want to become involved. This generates a need for additional support.
The women and children are very interested in their development and confirm that time, effort, and financial support will clear the way.
"We are like a small tree. We already have roots and leaves. So we must do all our best for this tree not to dry. This requires all of us to involve in watering it. Now we have little water and so more water is still needed.
I think this is easy to understand. In other words, if all of us are at work for our betterment, any person of good heart will be motivated to help us. A lot of energy and positive thoughts will move us far and of course, we need funds to do widen what we have started."
International Women's Day
Thanks to International Woman’s Day, grassroots organizations have an opportunity to highlight programs and projects developed for women. It also gives the women a platform to express the enormous progress made within themselves, their families, communities, and even on a national level.
Together, we can make change, development, rights awareness, and empowerment happen for the women in rural DR Congo.