Jean Marie meets with a group of Pama Kaci women.
(Don’t miss an important alert at the end of this report.)
For this month’s report, we are sharing feedback from the Rwenena community gathered during our economic empowerment assistance that was offered to the women of Rwenena and as described by the Project Manager Jean Marie.
A typical workday for Jean Marie might include finalizing an urgent report for a development project, addressing a water supply emergency by working with local authorities, attending a meeting with a consortium of other organizations and international entities, and working intensively by phone with the Project Leader committed to advancing the impact and programming in Rwenena, DRC. He must catch the last bus home to his wife and children to avoid security-related dangers at night.
Jean Marie is a professional agroecologist (see link below). He has made the human dimensions of the science a critical piece of his work in serving 11 of the 12 territories in the province of S. Kivu. He encourages and equips passionate changemakers who have endured loss, violence, and a protracted conflict for more than 25 years. Jean Marie’s end goal extends past successfully completed work. He listens to community stakeholders who are interested in enacting sustainable change from within. He has practiced community-led development since before the term was coined.
Two years ago, in his role as Program Manager, Jean Marie introduced the principles of community-led development to people in Rwenena. But circumstances make this community stand out among all the rest he has served. It’s why he remains committed despite meager compensation.
“Rwenena has a peculiarity,” he explains. It’s a place that has been routinely overlooked, starting with the chief of the village cluster. He fails to inform outside development agencies that Rwenena is safe to serve – or even that it exists at all. As a result, the community has been deprived of skill-building and income-generating projects. Two such programs have passed them by or served them minimally, despite high-level reports that indicate otherwise. The second was a multimillion-dollar consortium.
“People are under the now-mistaken impression that Rwenena is unsafe due to enduring ethnic based conflicts, including personality differences of chiefs.” But in the last 2 years, it is peace that has endured, thanks to the initiatives taken on by the village’s democratically elected General Development Committee.
The second factor that stops outsiders from going to Rwenena is its distance from the main road. Infrastructure does not exist. The community lives without electricity, connectivity, or even basic text or calling features.
I asked Jean Marie how people’s attitudes may have changed since he and his teammate began serving the community.
“We have witnessed profound change. The progressive awareness of men, women, and young people from three sub-communities (Rwenena I, II, III) currently allows a cohesion of ideas for the whole village. “By collaborating with and valuing one another, they can organize themselves and reach positive community ownership. The Pama Kaci women embrace their namesake, which translates to “Let’s Cultivate Love/ Let’s Cultivate Community”). Jean Marie testifies that they have learned and grown with one another.
For the month of February 2022, through the donations that were raised, a total of 50 women were supported across the three sub-communities of Rwenena. For a detailed breakdown, see our attached document, “Breakdown of Women Served....”
From the assistance, we could learn that the people of Rwenena are not yet fully equipped to build a sustainable economy. As they look toward a sustainable future, Jean Marie affirms, “all activities and changes depend on financial and material resources.” Women still need the core components of our project:
(1) Training and launching of microenterprises with startup funds strengthened by Village Cooperative Savings and Loan Associations. We need to raise $1000 dollars to provide our penultimate group of women with this service.
(2) Support for the Pama Kaci enterprise as they continue to produce and sell hand-sanitizing gel, including transportation costs and refreshment for day-long market transactions in the hub of Uvira.
(3) Critical business skills through a months-long literacy and numeracy training program. Jean Marie stresses the importance of this training “to support women’s leadership so they can associate knowledge with innate abilities.” We are eager to begin this program when all micro-enterprises have been launched.
Quite simply, we cannot meet our goals without your donations.
GlobalGiving is holding its bi-annual Little by Little campaign the week of April 4 - 8. All donations up to $50 will be matched by 50%. Larger donations are encouraged. This is a perfect time to generate additional revenue for our work.
We send our deep gratitude for your ongoing support. Please spread the word throughout your networks by voice, text, email, or by sharing our project so that others can learn about our growing impact.
Be well, everyone.
Pama Kaci women meet with Jean Marie.
Jean Marie delights toddlers & moms with apples.
A Pama Kaci woman enjoys lightheartedness with JM.