On to Nyangezi
By Bahati Valerie, Co-founder/Exec. Secretary, COFAPRI. April 2015.
After a successful visit in Katana, I went to Nyangezi, as planned.
I was pleased to meet the women and girls involved in sewing activities. The activities are going well and the women are very happy, and proud to be learning these life skills. I also visited some of the children we sponsor through school fees and materials, as well as meeting with their Director.
Before I went to Nyangezi, Mr. Bishikwabo Boniface, one of COFAPRI leading team coordinators, had been there earlier to pay the women a visit and he was extremely pleased with the advancements the women have made so far in sewing.
“These women have made tremendous strides. I am very much impressed by their activities. They are not coming here to play, but they well understand the reasons that bring them here. They are focused toward an objective they do appreciate. In teams they discuss other issues related to their life in home and in society.
They are truly helping one another to move forward. Those who are in advance in sewing do help those who lag behind to understand what has been done.
Many of them can’t read or write; this is why help in teams is valued.”
The women appreciated the presence of Mr. Boniface. The sewing teacher, Esperance Nzigire M'Mujija, is teaching the second group of women and girls since these activities were launched in Nyangezi.
“We appreciate your coming to visit us. We like visitors. Visitors inside and outside this area are welcome.
When they come we can show them what we have been doing. We sew, we knit and bead; this helps us to keep united and familiarize with each other and learn from our friends here. Sewing activities are helping us rural women victims of rape and domestic violence unite and remake our lives.
When you come to like this for a visit, we feel morally supported and as you can see all my students have smiles on their lips.”
Esperance Nzigire M'Mujija
Sewing Skills Bring Fulfilment and Economic Benefits
The women were very encouraged by my visit. They showed me the different items they have sewn and mentioned that since they began sewing, they have learned and gained many things.
Their sewing representative, Ms. Sifa, said they are very thankful for COFAPRI, who initiated this practice in their village. She thinks sewing is a wonderful skill that benefits both themselves and their families. She used to spend a lot of money having her clothes and those of her family mended, but today she can do that for herself, and save money.
“Sewing is helping us reduce consumption and utilize reused materials. For example, if I had to purchase new clothes every time something got a small tear in it or needed a slight alteration, I would be buying clothes much more often and in this way, my money is going out; this is loss.
Look, another thing, my fingers and feet are now flexible compared to before I came here. I started to touch on this in my first point, but knowing basic sewing skills has given me the flexibility to shop where I want, but also to customize my clothes and those of my family members to fit my needs and shapes.
And today, I can buy any dress in the market, no matter its size and I am now able to reduce it to fit me.
Mama, now you can understand that we all here are now able to master some basic sewing skills and now we have that flexibility to customize our clothes to fit our body so that we always look like our clothes were made just for us.
Can’t you see you are wonderful and we have reasons to praise you and COFAPRI!”
The women reiterated their thanks to all of the people around the world who are thinking of them. Particularly, they thanked Ms. Anne Seery, who has always helped them move from one step to another. They welcomed a new sewing machine I bought for them from the donation Anne Seery made.
“We have always heard of these kind people who keep us in their hearts.
We thank them a lot. We’d like to have them here with us one day so that we can share ideas and see them in person.
We always get support from Anne and we appreciate this.
This new machine will help us more; now we will be able to practice easily the theories we’ll learn. Anne you are our real mother!
Thaaaaank you a lot and God bless you and your family!”
More Sewing Machines Needed
In addition, the women asked if it’s possible to give them three or four sewing machines once they complete their training. These machines could be given to them in teams and they could use them to start their own centres, in collaboration with COFAPRI. They acknowledged that even if they finish their practice, they will not completely step away from COFAPRI, because this would be ungrateful.
“We really appreciate COFAPRI to bring this thing here. It is helping us in different ways. But we have a big problem in the future.
When we’ll finish this study, we’ll not be able to sew as we have no personal sewing machines.
In case we get chance to get machines after completion of this practice, they can help us a lot. We have no means to buy our own machines and if we are not practicing, we may forget the notions we had acquired.
We want the notions we got to be used in life; sustainability is needed to make our lives better through the sewing we will have done. So people of good heart, we beg you to help us in this way.”
Having viewed the sewn items and heard their words of encouragement, I felt a lot of emotion. I simply told these women and girls that I keep them in my heart and remain committed, hopeful, united, and always have my eyes open to their objectives.
Nothing is difficult in life if people are united, supportive, and have faith. I told them they have seen a lot, have come a long way, and where they are today is not the arrival point.
More Children Awaiting Sponsorship - Schools Can Help Keep Vulnerable Children Safe
Next I arrived at a nearby school, Cihanda Primary School, where we provide school fees and equipment for some of the children. I met and talked to the pupils and they were very grateful to COFAPRI for helping them get a school education.
I also spoke to their Director, Marhegeko Gervais, and we promised each other to work together. He appreciated COFAPRI’s endeavour to support these hugely vulnerable children.
More children at the school begged to be put on our waiting list, which was supported by the Director. Their families are destitute, therefore, they need support as well.
So, we ask individuals and organizations to help us obtain fees and school materials for these children, or sponsor some of them. We always believe in unity, and in the power to secure a future free from the dark hurdles of illiteracy.
Helping children born of rape and victims of domestic violence in rural DR Congo breaks the cycle of war and rape. Some of them are targeted to become militia members, as they are left to wander in their villages.
School can keep them safe.