Jeanette Mbango, a mother of five girls, was raped in 2002. As the second rapist stepped up, her husband broke free of his bonds and tried to help but was killed right in front of her. She was separated from her children for nine months until the local church reunited them. Then she lost her leg to a mortar shell. After a year in a hospital she joined WFW-DRC and began to recover.
Now she is settled in Bukavu and making a living sewing and selling these dolls. All of the dolls are of women in colorful clothes, in scenes from daily life. Remarkable to me, every one of the dolls has a smile on her face. Jeanette is a strong woman.
My work here is to help design activities that will enable the women in the program to earn an income. To do this, we match the economic opportunities in the local market to the skills and interests of the women in the program. This determines the focus of our vocational training program. In DRC, the sectors are sewing & tailoring, tie-dying fabric, soap making, growing vegetables, raising goats, and making ceramic floor tiles.
In addition to the training, the women save some of your sponsorship money to buy equipment they will need to operate their own small businesses. Often, the women will form groups like cooperatives to share expenses and to sell their products together.
As you know, WFWI works in poor countries and we focus our attention on the poorest of the poor, the socially excluded women who are victims of conflict. It’s a challenging task, and one very significant goal of our work is to help the women learn to support themselves. We’re showing some progress here in eastern DRC, but there’s a long way to go.