Goats, fish and a future: our work in the DRC Part Two.

February 15, 2018

So many women who have been left alone and vulnerable in the DRC...

In World in Need Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) our leaders are Desire and Claudaline. Through them, World In Need are changing lives in many ways.

The Women's community

After long years of war and conflict, there are many women who have been left alone and vulnerable. Too many were raped by the soldiers from both sides and left damaged and traumatised, and with children. Their families and communities often see them as shamed and shun them, and many are abandoned by their husbands. Others have the grief of knowing their husbands were killed.

World in Need helps a community of about 300 women living in a rural area near Goma in the east of the country. This area was particularly hard hit during the violence, and Goma was known as “the rape capital of the world”. The women need to recover and rebuild their lives and, through Claudaline and Desire, we do what we can to help.

We hired land and helped the woman set up an agricultural co-operative. They work together, planting crops that will give food, both for themselves and for sale. In future, we hope the food they grow will be plentiful enough that we can also stock the school kitchens with it, enabling us to feed the children well at a lower cost.

While they are working the land, the women bond and are able to talk to each other about their ordeals and experiences. It proves a good if basic therapy, although many need proper counselling sessions.

As well as planting crops, we teach the women business skills and help them set up small businesses. They sell soap for washing clothes, food, bowls and baskets made of recycled plastics. The income is enough to sustain them, ensuring they don’t starve.

We are able to offer micro-credit to help them set up the businesses. The amounts we can give are very small, in the region of $5-$10, and are often funded by Claudaline and Desire themselves, who go without to ensure the wellbeing of the women in their care.

In the DRC, animal owners are respected. Therefore, World In Need has started a goat programme. We give one woman a goat, from which she can get milk and cheese to add to her family’s diet. When that goat has its first kid, she passes it on to another woman. Subsequent kids stay with her so she can build her herd. The second woman does the same, and so on. The programme is doing well, and slowly, we are giving goats to more and more of the women.

Reaction to the goat programme is good. The local authorities like it, for it increases the prosperity of the women and allows them to be re-integrated into their communities. It also empowers them and increases their confidence.

To date, we have given 40 goats to women.

We would also like to harvest fish. Once we can buy our own land, we’d like to build a pond and stock it with fish, which the women can nurture and grow until they are big enough to harvest. These will then be used to supplement their diets, and also give them another product to sell.

In the future, we hope to:

  • Buy land for the project so we no longer need to rent. This will save money and give the women more stability
  • Provide enough crops to feed the women, feed the children at the school and perhaps have some over to sell
    Set up an agricultural college, giving apprenticeships in agriculture
  • Harvest fish
  • Enable the women to have access to the counselling they need to recover from their traumatic histories
  • Fund the goat programme so that more women are able to have a goat, and all the benefits that infers
  • Enable the projects to become self-supporting, so that Claudaline and Desire no longer have to use their own incomes to pay for the things that are needed.

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