Sister Virginia BITSHANDA DW
A group of women of Kisangi in the Democratic Republic of Congo have called themselves the« Hekima Mamas» which in Swahili means «The Wisdom Mamas» It is their way of showing their relationship with the Congregation of the Daughters of Wisdom who is working with them. The general objective of this group is to support women in the struggles that they meet within their families.
How to become financially autonomous in spite of differences?
First it is important to understand that Congolese women are the key persons in the life of the family. They work very hard to assure the survival of their family: providing food, school fees and health care for their children.
Under the guidance of the Daughters of Wisdom, each woman works in groups of five or six persons according to the activity that interests her.
The women have been receiving formation on different levels, which is making a visible impact on them. Because of this formation, the women are showing great creativity and initiative. They are collaborating among themselves in spite of ethnic and religious differences and find ways to bring peace when relationships become difficult.
One their many initiatives: Cultivation of fields
Several small groups chose to make cassava flour or «chikwangu» as it is called. When these women had difficulty finding cassava in the markets, another small group decided to cultivate it so as to provide the cassava needed to the groups making the chikwangues. How creative!
A project which is called to grow
We are receiving many requests from women’s groups who wish to join the Hekima Mamas. Our work with the women is gradually expanding and we rejoice in seeing these women growing in freedom.
As this organization spreads, so does the need for benefactors.
We are appealing to the generosity of those who would like to promote growth in developing countries.
Why not contribute to the development of the women in the DRC?
VIDEO MONTAGE PHOTO
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 !
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.
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.
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.
These women amaze people who ask them : “With this mixture of denominations, how do you succeed in getting together and collaborating?
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.