Bahati-with-groupCOFAPRI co-founder, Bahati, with members in Nyangezi

Uniting Women and Girls in DR Congo

July 2011 - By Mugisho Theophile, Safe World DR Congo Correspondent, and Executive Director of COFAPRI


COFAPRI’s achievements in the last three months have mainly been centred around the different activities that were organized and conducted by our coordinator in Nyangezi, Mr Mushagalusa Ezechiel, where we have started our first activities of small cattle raising.COFAPRI-Coordinator-in-NyanMr Mushagalusa Ezechiel, COFAPRI coordinator in Nyangezi

Nyangezi is a rural community of 43 villages and almost 46,000 people, approximately one and a half hour's drive from Bukavu.

Mr. Mushagalusa has organized several meetings in which he motivated the women and girls to be united as they have the same difficulties.

He came to Kigali to talk with me face to face.

This was his first time to come in Kigali to report on the various activities that he organised aimed at empowering women and girls of Nyangezi and the neighbouring villages in which we have members.

Overall, the organization is extending on different villages and more women and girls are joining in.

Co-founder Bahati connects with COFAPRI women

In addition to this, Bahati went to Nyangezi to visit her parents and on the same occasion she met COFAPRI women and girls members.COFAPRI-women-3

For her, meeting these women in their home environment remains a good way to exchange with them about their issues at home and in society, which ultimately remains the best strategy for empathising with them.

They consider Bahati as their close friend who wants to know deeply and better how they live, in order to discuss together their plights.

Keeping distance with the people one wants to help would not sound fair; in order to assist people, you have to know what they need and how they suffer.

Financing medical treatment

During her stay in Nyangezi, Bahati was informed that two of COFAPRI’s older members were admitted in Nyangezi hospital – also known as Muzinzi hospital.Hospital-visit

She visited these two members of COFAPRI who were admitted in Nyangezi hospital and paid for half of their medical expenses as she had not enough means to pay the full amount.

They were suffering from malaria.

If the women were not helped with the payments for medical assistance, they would not be allowed to leave the hospital even if they had recovered; this is the norm in most DRC hospitals.

One of the patients said:

“God bless COFAPRI and this mother he has sent to us (that is Bahati). Women like you are few but we are sure our project is growing and as women are the first beneficiaries, we are happy of this act. The hospital would keep us here if you had not assisted us.

God bless you and COFAPRI.

We see many people who are rich in this area but they can’t do what you have showed to us today. Your good heart will be blessed.”

The more the patient stays, the more money they will owe the hospital. And for Nyangezi women, this is awful as they live on traditional cultivation, which is less productive.

While they are in hospital, their field will not be cultivated because their husbands never cultivate, and their kids would be abandoned to themselves.

Job distribution in the homes of this area is unfair; the women do everything in the home and the man’s role is to eat and to make children.

The doctor of this hospital was surprised at Bahati's help for his patients. And this is what the doctor said:

“Women like you are not many in this country. You at least you show interest in patients. If we could have five women like you, the DRC women would have gone far. We thank you for your good heart.”

These women thanked her very much and wished her to stay there for longer.

More resources needed

Bahati also offered some rabbits to some members, in addition to the pigs that they already had been provided with. With this, we are sure more than half of all our members are now served.COFAPRI-members-4

The more means we will have, the more members we will serve.

Malaria affects a lot of people in Nyangezi because the people never use mosquito nets as they are so poor they cannot buy them – and the few times the government offers them, it does not cover all the areas of the country.

Where this is done, they only give to some pregnant women, and others are neglected.