COFAPRI's Current Progress to help DR Congo Rural Women and Children Victims of War Rape and Domestic Violence

Mugisho Ndabuli Theophile
Posted May 6, 2015 from Democratic Republic of the Congo
Women empowerment via animal rearing.
COFAPRI woman with her pig.
Empowering women via sewing skills.
Empowering women via sewing skills.: Sewing machines offered by COFAPRI to women. (1/2)

Striving to build new communities

COFAPRI is toiling hard to make sure women and children receive sustainable developmental assistance and are informed about their rights. These women and children have suffered unimaginable atrocities during the unending wars of the DR Congo, whose targets are mostly women, girls and children. Women and girls are raped and children forced to enroll with militia.

In order to overcome trauma and build a new way of life, COFAPRI strives to build a well-united community, whose members are helping one another, making them feel they are not alone, but rather, more united. After their activities, the women and girls victims meet to share life experiences. It is here that they learn from one another, are motivated, and develop an understanding that their suffering does not have to mean the end of their lives.

The Congolese government has been showing little will or capability to deal with the bulk of rape cases, numerous and ongoing in the villages of the country. COFAPRI is involved in various activities in order to help the women who were raped and discriminated against in order to rebuild their lives, and assist the children born of rape to acquire a school education.

Animal Rearing

Our animal rearing project began early in 2010 with just one pig and three rabbits. Each COFAPRI member who participates in this project is provided with a piglet that grows and when this pig begins to reproduce – also the process with other animals, the women give to other members in their respective teams and can also sell the remaining offspring. Thus, the animals that the women breed provide an income. There is currently no farm by lack of means for the placement of the animals, so they are reared at the beneficiaries’ compounds.

Sewing Skills

In August 2013, COFAPRI initiated a Sewing Skills Programme, which trains women and girls - who are victims of rape, subjected to domestic violence, orphaned girls, or women who have been widowed by the DR Congo’s ongoing civil conflict-from rural areas in sewing and knitting activities. Very recently, beading skills were initiated with the same members. In the beginning, there were 30 women and girls who were ready to begin training - six groups of five. The number of women and girls who are learning this skill has now already increased to more than 60 and continues to grow. COFAPRI is currently unable to assist such a large number due to the lack of machines and trainers. We have also introduced the teaching of knitting skills, which is very popular, and beading. The women are only able to meet twice a week for training, because they have other responsibilities. COFAPRI insists on education for both women and children. Currently, the organization is training more than 60 women and girls in sewing, knitting and beading skills.

School Education

COFAPRI sponsors the school education (fees and school materials) of 86 children. We believe that by providing children with education, outside opportunities become available as tools for development and self-dependence. The organization has ambitions to engage youth, primarily, through education. It also aims to reconstruct the cultural attitudes present in the DR Congo that have had negative results. We believe that children with an education gain self-confidence, internalize gender equality, and realize that they can live without the perpetration of discrimination and hatred. However, the DR Congo education system is facing serious challenges today. The DRC government has done little to help the children born of rape; these children have been discriminated against and have been abandoned. This situation has the potential to dangerously escalate as these children may later join armed groups; thus, continuing the cycle of conflict and sexual violence towards women. The mothers of these children remain neglected, and are not involved in any education (formal or informal). Education in the DRC is experiencing little momentum because it is parents who are charged with the responsibility of providing teacher salaries, both in public and private education. Most of the children in rural areas cannot attend school, as some families live with such high levels of poverty that they cannot afford the school fees. In other instances, parents refuse to send their daughters to school due to the traditional belief that they will simply not perform well, providing their parents with an unwanted financial burden.

Small Businesses

COFAPRI members are also involved in small business in order to address poverty. In 2014 COFAPRI worked with Safe World for Women and the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, in the USA, on the development of a programme to help women start up small businesses. The women in the DR Congo are totally dependent on their husbands, who sometimes also have no job. Thanks to this business activity, women will contribute a great deal to their family’s welfare. Becoming financially independent of their husbands can lessen violence in rural DR Congo. With more financial support, all interested women can become involved in the COFAPRI business programmes, and have the opportunity to step out of poverty and heal from the trauma.

If you can get ways to help us involve more women and girls in the above mentioned activities for sustainable development, and help us help more children born of rape and victims of discrimination attend school education, you are welcome at http://www.cofapri.org/donate-now.html

COFAPRI is a Safe World For Women Field Partner and donations are processed via Safe World for Women.

The Path to Participation Initiative from World Pulse and No Ceilings

Comments 10

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Alyssa Rust
May 06, 2015
May 06, 2015

Dear Mugisho,

Thank you for sharing this post. I always am amazing and inspired but the great work that you are doing with COFAPRI to help women and children. The animal rearing project and sewing skills sounds like really great programs. The work that COFAPRI has been able to do in training more than 60 women is something to be really proud of. Thanks again for sharing and continuing to do amazing work.

Sincerely, Alyssa Rust 

Mugisho Ndabuli Theophile
May 07, 2015
May 07, 2015

Dear Alyssa,

We appreciate your consideration toward COFAPRI. We'd be helping more women and children but due to reduced means we only help such a reduced number. We hope to reach out all the villages that are concerned.

Thank you for your words.

Regards,

Mugisho

Tan Ching
May 09, 2015
May 09, 2015

It is really admirable for all the hard work done to help the girls and women, also having obtained support from Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, in the USA. Thanks for sharing your story and it becomes an inspiration to motivate others to do volunteer work or set up voluntary groups, raise funds as well as recruit like-minded volunteers, and then give assistance to those in need of help.

Ukhengching Marma
May 09, 2015
May 09, 2015

Hello,

Its is great to hear that your organization is supporting many rural women and child rape victims. Children are often used as a weapon during the war times and they need to get support physically and mentally to overcome the struggles. I give you and your organization a huge grtitude for empowering women and standing aside the girls. 

Respect from

Ukhengching Marma

Mugisho Ndabuli Theophile
May 10, 2015
May 10, 2015

Dear PohChing,

Thanks a lot for your comment and we appreciate your being grateful to our efforts of helping rural women and girls victims of rape and domestic discrimination in the DR Congo. Yes, we are involving some women in small business thanks to the support we got from the Kelley School of Business Indiana University. Now we are facing a great challenge of too many women and children who are coming to us for support while our means are really limited. Had you had means to suooprt us or connect us with other ways we can get them, we'd be really grateful, thanks.

Regards,

Mugisho

Mugisho Ndabuli Theophile
May 11, 2015
May 11, 2015

Dear Ukheng,

We truly thank you for the regard you have for our organization www.cofapri.org It is true many children in the DR Congo have been involved in the militia by force, boys as wel as girls. The girls have been used as sex slaves and some of them got pregnancies and even delivered children, while themselves they were still unmature to beget kids. Some others happened to escape the fighters and reached their families, with pregnancies or not. They have been discriminated as being raped brings shame to the family and the community, according to local traditions and cultures here. Children born in such conditions are the ones COFAPRI www.cofapri.org is helping to have access to school education. Their number is now so big that we cannot afford helping them all. By failing to help them go to school, these children become hopeless, which might push them to become street children, thieves or bandits; others may rejoin the militia and become rapist like those who raped their mothers. This is due to these children being unoccupied. The girls will involve in untimely sexual activity for survival, which in both cases becomes a social securiyt threat. We hope education can still redress this alarmimg situation. We believe education can still help these children remake their lives, that of their families and the nation.

If you can have ways of sponsoring some or supporting these children, you're welcome.

Kind regards,

Mugisho

Ma. Guzman-Callano
May 12, 2015
May 12, 2015

Mugisho, COFAPRI's efforts in saving the future of young boys and girls are commendable!  Sustain your programs for their sake. Many funding agencies will be willing to help you. Just document what you are doing, package your accomplishments well and knock on the doors of the right agencies. I am sure one or two will reply. Meanwhile, I will include COFAPRI in my prayers.

Shalom! 

Mugisho Ndabuli Theophile
May 12, 2015
May 12, 2015

Dear Lydia,

Thank you very much for appreciating what we are doing and we appreciate your advice. Your prayers are the most welcome, dear!

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Regards,

Mugisho

OMagdalena
May 14, 2015
May 14, 2015

Dear Mugisho,

Thank you for sharing this. Considering the situation of Rural Women in DR Congo, I so much appreciate your work. It honestly makes me feel that I should do more here in my country, where the situation seems better. You show a lot of courage and determination to help women and children.

I support you and wish you all the best!

Sincerely, 

Magdalena

Mugisho Ndabuli Theophile
May 15, 2015
May 15, 2015

Dear Magdalena,

Thank you a lot for your words of support.

The situation of the rural women and girls victims of war rape and domestic discrimination in the DR Congo is awful. The same situation remains appalling for children born of rape. We are trying to help as much as we can but our means are really limited and we are facing great challenges: more women and children are coming to us for support but we do not have enough means to help them all. If you have ways to lend us a hand of support it can help us a lot to reach out more women and children in rural villages of the DR Congo.

With kind regards,

Mugisho