DR CONGO: Don Bosco Center provides additional funding for 100 women to help them start their own businesses
(MissionNewswire) The Don Bosco Center, located in the city of Bukavu in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is supporting women who wish to join women’s groups run by the Association Villageoise d’Epargne et Crédit (AVEC), an association for savings and credit in the villages. Since July 2018, the Don Bosco Center has helped create 20 groups of women, mostly mothers.
Every week, the women deposit 1,000 to 5,000 Congolese Francs (CF), which is roughly 60 cents, into the group’s safe, in addition to depositing another 200 CF in the solidarity fund. After a few weeks, the group members can apply for credit and receive up to 10,000 CF to help in situations of necessity such as the birth of a child, an illness or a death in the family.
The Don Bosco Center has two social assistants, Gisèle Cibasa and Nicole Mapendo, who regularly attend the weekly meetings of each group and collect information on each member. They listen to each person individually, visit women’s homes and discover their stories.
The women in the groups often have great ideas and projects, but they need help to start or strengthen their activities. Many of the mothers live in difficult situations and have problems related to their children’s health, food and school.
Recently, Cibasa and Mapendo selected 100 mothers and a few dads to receive a small financial contribution from the Don Bosco Center. This will allow them to start an income-generating activity and work on becoming self-sufficient. The candidates selected are all in serious need of additional assistance.
Group member Nyassa Nyakisoka recently lost her home, and her husband is seriously ill. There is no money in the family for medicines. Bwinja Aline is fatherless, and after graduation she stopped studying to help her mother and her 11 brothers. Helene Murhula was abandoned by her husband and forced to leave her home. Her children do not go to school and she looks for a way to guarantee them a future. Didienne Mukunda is also struggling to pay her children’s school fees.
Many of the women who seek to join the AVEC groups and are supported by the Don Bosco Center are in desperate situations but must still find ways to support their families. The Don Bosco Center helps these women and their families by meeting their basic needs and providing education and social support. The goal is to help these women so they can recover and have an income of their own to give their children the hope of a better tomorrow.
“Salesian missionaries at the Don Bosco Center lend support to families who cannot pay their children’s public school fees,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Depending on the degree of vulnerability, the center has intervened to pay half or all the school fees for about 150 primary and secondary school children. The center also has a courtyard that allows children from the local community to come together and play year-round.”
Despite its vast material wealth, the DRC has long been a very poor nation. Half of the country’s population lives below the poverty line on less than $1 a day, especially those in rural communities. Because of ongoing strife and violence within the country, more than 8.5 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, a figure that’s expected to increase. More than 4.1 million Congolese are now displaced with 620,000 seeking refuge in neighboring countries. More than 7.5 million people do not have enough food to eat.
Salesian missionaries have been working in the DRC for more than 100 years ensuring that the most vulnerable children are not forgotten. Salesian primary and secondary schools and programs lay the foundation for early learning while Salesian trade, vocational and agricultural programs offer many youth the opportunity for a stable and productive future.
ANS Photo (usage permissions and guidelines must be requested from ANS)
Salesian Missions – Democratic Republic of the Congo
UNICEF – DR Congo