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Virginie BITSHANDA, Daughter of Wisdom (DW)

“An Association of Mothers “MAMA HEKIMA” ( mothers of wisdom in Swahili) in Kisangani, DRC, with the Sisters of the Formation Community. The aim of the Association was to bring together Kisangani women of modest background to help them get organized for financial self-sufficiency. A beautiful project in line with the Regional Orientation: “To get in touch with the Mothers to support them in their struggle to care for their children and the entire family.”

The well launched project was not easy at the beginning !

Intense recruitment

We initially recruited women without exclusion. Among these women, some were Catholics, others Muslims or Jehovah Witnesses or still others Protestants, or Revival Church…Disagreeing with this situation, the group asked to be subdivided according to religious denomination. It seemed impossible to these women with so many different faiths to work together. Prejudices from one category to the other were very strong. That did not surprise us, for when listening to the preaching broadcasted on television, we could hear how these negative messages incite division, hostility and violence. Mostly women are abused in that way on account of their religious fanaticism.

How to go about creating team spirit ?

Aware of the cultural realities in place and taking into account the local mentalities, we drew on previous experiences of support groups. We used the tools of formation received at IFHIM to accompany these groups of women.

Where are they now on this journey ?

There is a proverb in Swahili that says :
“Kwakuguakwenyenyumbakunavuyainafaakuishindani”. It means: “It is up close that reality can be seen.” We have seen the appalling conditions that society imposes on these women. By attending more closely, we could witness and confirm that the strengths of these women (capacities, skills, courage, qualities, love…) were impressive and full of hope.

More signs:
These women amaze people who ask them : “With this mixture of denominations, how do you succeed in getting together and collaborating?

• They take the initiative of the activities as a source of revenue by putting together their qualities, skills, talents and competences…
• Little by little, they built peace among them, deciding to look at each other as persons beyond their differences. They visit, support and assist one another when a problem comes up while respecting their faith differences.
• They are now starting to become multipliers. Because of their testimony, their children, husbands, friends and relatives get involved. Other women ask to participate in the association so as to be surrounded and accompanied.

Three Associations of Women are operating in KABONDO, SIMI-SIMI AND MANGOBO. Women make crafts that they sell thereafter: chikwangu (cassava stick), fufu (cassava flour), bread.

Bundles of joy and encouragement for these women who never cease to thank the Sisters of the Congregation for the kind thought towards them! On our part, what joy also to see the benefit this support has given them. Little by little, it helps them to take charge not only of their financial responsibilities but also of their dignity as “Mothers”. Isolated, nobody would have guessed what they could do together.

All these positive effects encourage us to progressively expand our mission towards other women of our Region.