Women for Women International: DRC

WfWI-DRC has the largest program in the Women for Women International network, serving over 7,000 women this year. Looking at a map of the country at large, the areas in which we work seem rather close in vicinity, especially relative to the size of the country (nearly the same landmass as Western Europe). However, looking at the prominently placed map of DRC in the Bukavu headquarters, it is clear that the communities WfWI-DRC serve are nowhere near each other; from North to South, Goma, Bukavu, Baraka, and Uvira are hours away from each other. It is a 13 hour drive, north to south. Unfortunately for me, it means that my time in the country will be primarily limited to Bukavu. Luckily for me, the training staff from all the sub-offices are here for the Training of Trainers (ToT).

The ToT’s purpose is to give an in-depth orientation to the newly deepened Women’s World Manual Curriculum, help the Renewing Women’s Life Skills trainers improve their facilitation skills, and most importantly help them solve problems so they can more effectively serve the women participants. I already knew that the DRC training crew have significant challenges, but I also know that they are uniquely placed to have a great impact on the women we serve. Having worked on the curriculum revision for two years as WfWI Program Coordinator in DC, I am very excited and happy to be here.

This is also a unique opportunity for the trainers; such great distances mean that they have little opportunity to interact, share experiences, and focus exclusively on their training techniques. They seem especially excited that Nina and I are here to focus on their important work. On the first day of training, it seems quite a lot like the first day of “school”; the ReneWLS trainers stick with the people they know. The Bukavu group sits together, the Goma group sits together, and the Baraka/Uvira group sit together. I know they are excited, but they also seem nervous. This is not surprising; having worked on the revised curriculum for a long time myself, I know that the new manual is more than double the size of the original, which makes it imposing before you even open the book. But, as lead training consultant Nina Nayar says as she introduces the curriculum, we have complete confidence in the training staff. We know they can master the new material. All that is really new is the methodology, and I am more than confident that the trainers can learn from each other and teach Nina and I things as well.

Nina introduces herself, and then gives me the floor. I tell the trainers about my work with WfWI, and I also tell them that I am a first generation American whose parents are from Nigeria and Ghana. This is my first trip to Africa since I was a child. This brings lots of smiles and applause to the room.

Then the 37 trainers, plus office and sub-office staff introduce themselves. The youngest trainer is 22 – the oldest trainers playfully decline to give their age. The trainers are young, mature, married, widowed, divorced, single, and have training in many different fields. There are trained teachers, nurses, lawyers, and agronomists in the training staff. Also present is Honorata, the prime example of WfWI successes, is present among the Baraka group of trainers. As we finish introducing ourselves and begin dividing up sessions and exercises to practice, I am certain that WfWI-DRC has the best trainers to be had in the country. I am excited to see what they make of the new material.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Women for Women International: DRC

  1. Mudekereza

    Well, this is my first time to hear about your organization through Oprah web site. I am a medical student with experience in general practice at Kinshasa.
    It is now 10 years since I have left the Congo to Québec in Canada and bcs of the war I was very worry about the quality of families in my country. It was very painful to hear about women who are raped and to see myself as useless. I say thank you for your work as I fing your program very interesting. I believe that educating a women refers to educate all a nation and applaude your initiative.
    I wish you all the best!

  2. Lynda Maenius

    I have felt a tremendous drawing to work with the children and women, directly, in places where I am needed. When I would inquire about this to other agencies, they wanted money … They weren’t interested in my years of experience teaching children and involvement in working in Women’s Shelters, as well as serving on the board of a shelter as Chairman of Marketing.
    I have retired from 27 years teaching grades preschool, Kindergarten – Third Grade, Sixth Grade World Culture and Geography, and I have taught Art at all levels. I am certified to teach Special Education and Gifted and Talented Education. My last four years in Education were spent working at the college level, supervising student teachers.
    I graduated from Texas Stated University with a BFA in All Level Art Instruction and minored in Elementary and Early Childhood Education. I have served in supervisory positions in all of these levels.
    I have found it very sad and alarming that the two times I requested information about my services, I was told that they didn’t need teachers…They needed money.
    I can deliver both. Additionally, a Congress person has been in contact with me about this. Her first concern was my safety. I explained that I felt that I would be going where God wanted me. I would be safe. Realizing that I was not going to change my mind, she and I will be meeting socially over the holidays and will find time to talk privately while she is still in the city, before she returns to Washington.
    Why would I want to leave my very comfortable life and work beside these children and women? I want to help their hopeless eyes have a spark of happiness and hope. It is not my first desire to read about it, I want to help make this happen. I want to hold an extremely ill child giving the child peace, comfort, &, most of all, LOVE during a very critical time.
    I am determined to do this — through your agency or another.
    Yes, I can bring money to this organization, but I want to bring the comfort, support & love that these children and women are in such need to receive. I strongly believe that one needs to “TEACH a man to fish so that he can be self-supporting.” I see this as an opportunity to teach others how they can live a better life when I am not there. THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT THAT ONE CAN RECEIVE is when one is no longer needed, because the women and children can securely and proudly support themselves and educate their children. The goal is to provide understanding, love, and guidance to these people. Then, the teaching will begin. The purpose of the teaching is NOT to make anyone dependent upon someone else —- The purpose is to teach the women and children to live self sufficient lives. Their strength will grow when they realize that they have the ability within themselves to successfully work, feed & nurture their families, &, in unity, provide a level of protection to these women and children.. I simply want to provide the skills and tools to help them achieve this goal. Then, when the time is right, we “LET GO & LET GOD”! We know that they are able to be self-sufficient.
    Thank you, in advance, for sharing your thoughts concerning this time and financial committment in behalf of these children and women. They so desparately need love and a chance to re-build their lives. It is my desire that they will once again believe in their abilities to overcome strife and know that they have been gifted the tools and knowledge to build a better future and life for themselves and their children.
    As for my satisfaction, I would like to be there when a young child’s face lights up because he/she has learned or experience something new. Maybe hugs….Maybe a hand touching mine! All of those things mean much more that anything money could ever buy!
    Sincerely,
    Lynda Maenius
    817-920-7830 (Home)
    817-475-6872 (Cell)
    “EDUCATION IS NOT SIMPLY FILLING A VESSELL; IT IS LIGHTING A FIRE!”
    Carl Jung

    Lynda C Maenius

  3. Bisrat Beyene

    This is an essential Ministry and I cover this one and other similar ones in prayer. We all need to become proactive and serve. Great job!!!

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