Build a business for a woman living in war

by Peace Direct
Build a business for a woman living in war
Josephine - Photo: Greg Funnel
Josephine - Photo: Greg Funnel

Josephine was living on a farm in the northeastern town of Butembo, DRC when her land was seized and her husband was murdered by rebel fighters. Josephine was sent into exile.

She joined the rival Burondo group to seek revenge for her husband and spent 6 years fighting in the bush.

However, when the militia began to recruit children into their ranks, Josephine knew she needed to escape. In 2011, Centre Resolution Conflicts – a local partner of Peace Direct – approached her militia with the promise of a new life outside of fighting. Josephine left and joined CRC.

She now works as a liaison to other militias, negotiating the release of child soldiers by using her specialist knowledge acquired from years of fighting.

Her home functions as a half-way house for child soldiers that have escaped. Following months of work and skills-training, Josephine ensures they are safely integrated back into their communities. They now have a chance at a new job and a new life.

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Ida standing on her farmland Photo: Greg Funnell
Ida standing on her farmland Photo: Greg Funnell

Ida is 33 years old, and lives in north-eastern DR Congo. The women in the area have suffered from decades of conflict, and Ida is no exception. 

During a brutal attack where she was living, she was forced to flee. She walked or miles from her home leaving everything she had behind, before being brought to a refugee camp. There, she was given some help, but eventually she was left to beg. She didn't know whether she and her family would survive. 

But her luck changed. She was given a $60 loan by CRC, with which she bought a goat, and set herself up selling cassava. In a short time, she had made enough money to pay back her loan. She was able to start a new life in a new village, safer from violence and no longer on the brink of survival. 

Now, she has three goats and some land, and is working towards building a new house for herself and her family. The small $60 loan will ensure that she and her family can have a stable, prosperous future. 

Links:

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Farming cassava means Mamy can support her family
Farming cassava means Mamy can support her family

Many people in Eastern DR Congo are still facing violence every day.  But the local people we support are as determined as ever to build lasting peace for their communities. Here’s how they’re doing it.

Since our previous report, 360 vulnerable women have been supported to start building businesses.

Not only have they been able to start making a sustainable living, but they’re able to invest in solar power for their homes, making them safer at night. Some women have helped others in their family to invest in bikes or motorbikes, helping them travel to sell their goods, or start motorbike taxi businesses. When a woman starts making a profit, it’s not only her that benefits, but her whole family and community.

By giving women the means to support their families and those around them, whole communities are becoming more resilient to conflict and violence.

CRC would like to give 120 more women the tools to build a business within the next three months, but they can’t do it without support. Donating just £44 can provide a hectare of land to be cultivated, and help a woman, her family, and community, achieve lasting peace.  

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Julienne near the land she cultivates
Julienne near the land she cultivates

''I remember the day my life changed forever. War broke out in my village and I had to flee with my family to escape the fighting. Before this we lived peacefully, we were happy''.

Julienne's life, and that of her family, turned into a desperate struggle the day war broke out in their village. Her husband used to make a good living in a soap factory, but when they were forced to flee their homes, they lost their income too. Moving into a camp for people that had been displaced by war, they had little food or shelter.

Just when they thought things couldn't get any harder, aid donations stopped coming in, and Julienne's husband fell ill.

Julienne felt utterly hopeless. One of her friends found her crying in desperation. Julienne told her about her problems, and the women told her that some other women in the camp were being helped by an organisation called Centre Resolution Conflits (CRC).

Julienne did not think they would be able to help her, but she hesitantly ask to join, and they accepted her. She began receiving training in starting a business, and was given a loan of $50 to invest in her family and her business.

She put $25 towards her husband's care, and $25 into improving the produce she was able to grow from a small plot of land.

''Today my life has totally changed. I now run several small businesses selling cassava, beans and rice, and other vegetables. Recently I managed to buy a small solar panel for lighting my house, so we can see in the evening''

Julienne's life has been completely transformed by this small $50 loan, and a few business training sessions. She is now able to feed her children properly, buy them new clothes, and care for her husband.

''My hope is that CRC keep progressing and find other women like me, whose lives are painful, and give them a future like they did for me''   

Links:

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook

Kahindo is 38, and lives in the village of Irango. During the war, her village was attacked by rebels and Kahindo suffered atrocities at the hands of the miltiamen. Unable to support herself and make a living after this, Kahindo felt isolated in her community, she felt worthless. For four years, Kahindo and her husband lived a lonely existence, as no one from either of the families, or their community, would visit them.

Just as Kahindo was losing hope in this loneliness, her luck changed. Staff from CRC arrived in Irango to raise awareness in the community about their work, and what they could do for people whose lives had been damaged by the conflict. Kahindo was sure that CRC would reject her like everyone else had, but as a last resort she approached them anyway. To her delight, they heard her story, and offered her the opportunity to join one of their agricultural cooperatives. In the cooperative she would learn, with other people whose lives had been damaged by the war, how to support herself again and earn a good income.

Working on some land provided by the local chief, Kahindo planted and harvested beans, which she was able to sell for $400 and stock her house with nutritious food. With this new income, Kahindo was able to invest some of her money and buy cocoa seedlings and her own field.

''I thank CRC for the support [they] have given'', she says, ''my social and economic dignity are gradually restored''. Together with her husband, they are now part of the community again, and look after their small farm, which now includes 10 hens, 6 rabbits, and 2 goats.

With your help, CRC can bring joy and security to the lives of many more women like Kahindo.

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
 

About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.

Get Reports via Email

We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.

Organization Information

Peace Direct

Location: London - United Kingdom
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @peacedirect
Project Leader:
Oscar Lester
London, United Kingdom

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

Still want to help?

Find another project in Congo, Democratic Republic of the or in Gender Equality that needs your help.
Find a Project

Learn more about GlobalGiving

Teenage Science Students
Vetting +
Due Diligence

Snorkeler
Our
Impact

Woman Holding a Gift Card
Give
Gift Cards

Young Girl with a Bicycle
GlobalGiving
Guarantee

Sign up for the GlobalGiving Newsletter

WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.