in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
photograph by kind permission of Doris Krimm
The Contraceptive Implant and Sewing Workshop projects were started by Kelley in the Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of Congo in early 2014 as a result of her visits there with The Luminosity Initiative, then a registered community interest company which has now become a UK registered charity Ensemble Pour La Difference (no: 1174074).
With the support of our ATS® community and Carolena Nericcio we raise funds for our two projects which are looked after by
Ensemble Pour La Difference and their team on the ground in Congo. The charity works with people emerging from conflict to build businesses that improve daily life for their community to strengthen stability and maintain peace
Our sisters still need your help so do please continue to fund raise in any way you can as your support is very much appreciated
for donations in US$
for donations in GBP £
How did we get involved
If I asked you to conjure up images of the Congo what would you imagine?
An heroic Humphrey Bogart and determined Katherine Hepburn struggling to free the African Queen from a muddy reed bed or maybe journalist and explorer Ernest Morton Stanley battling the rapids of the mighty Congo river in his quest to cross the continent, or maybe the child soldiers of recent years.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is the very heart of Africa bordered by the Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic and South Sudan to the north, Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania and Rwanda to the East and by Angola and Zambia to the south. It is one of the poorest and most dangerous places on the planet ranking 186 out of 187 on the Human Development Index and yet it is also one of the most beautiful and should be one of the richest given its incredible wealth of natural resources.
The women of Kivu shoulder the burden of family survival in the face of grinding poverty in a region beset by insecurity. They are strong but oppressed and need help.
Kivu region of DR Congo showing the island of Idjwi in Lake Kivu and locations of armed groups in our project area
My first introduction to the Congo was when I was 8 years old when my grandfather gave me an encyclopaedia with a small black and white photograph of a European explorer towering over a group of tiny 'Pygmies'. These poor people, along with the vast majority of Congolese, have suffered dreadfully throughout Congo’s bloody and traumatic history - systematic and repeated slave raids by Arab traders, brutalization of the people to produce rubber to line the pockets of King Leopold of Belgium in the late 1800’s, constant corruption, exploitation, disease and more recently the Congolese Civil Wars following the Rwandan genocide and the notorious M23 rebels who took control of the Kivu area in eastern Congo – all have taken their toll leaving behind a desperate yet increasingly hopeful people.
Every time I visit Congo the women approach me for help simply because I am a woman - there are many taboos in Congo and some subjects would never be discussed in the presence of men. Many many women are the victims of gender based violence including rape and sexual violence both in the home and during conflict, many have lost their husbands and in both scenarios the woman is cast out from her family to fend for herself. I realised that these women needed help and this got me thinking - wouldn't it be fantastic if my dance troupe could do something. So we did - Kalash Tribal organised a haflah and raised enough money to buy a much needed fishing net.
Since then things have grown but this little video explains that initial plea for help:
memories of that encyclopaedia photo are brought to real life -
Kelley with the Batwa ('Pygmy') people of Kivu