COFAPRI at Ten Years: A Giant Step for Rural DRC Communities
COFAPRI was created in 2009. Most of its activities started in 2012 in the villages of eastern DR Congo. Today, the organisation covers 40 villages… COFAPRI has also been empowering women via learning the basics in reading and writing. The activities started with 12 women in Katana/Kabamba in 2014, and today we have trained almost 250 women. These skills are helping the women with running small business and educating their children.
Overview of COFAPRI Activities Since its Creation in 2009
By Mugisho Ndabuli Theophile, Founder/Exec. Director, COFAPRI
COFAPRI was created in 2009. Most of its activities started in 2012 in the villages of eastern DR Congo. Today, the organisation covers 64 villages where it has made amazing progress through its empowerment of women and children programmes.
Most of these children and women are survivors of war rape, but we also empower those from destitute families in the villages.
Moreover, we have been using educational DVDs in order to educate the local population about basic hygiene and changing negative behaviours into positive ones.
Finally, the women are also learning the basics in reading and writing, and these skills are very helpful, mostly for their sewing and small business. Local leaders and the local population strongly appreciate the activities of COFAPRI.
Empowerment of village women
The activities help the women to:
- Run small businesses, from five women in 2012 to 108 in 2019.
- Learn sewing skills, five women with two sewing machines started the activity in 2012, and today, in 2019, 204 have been trained so far; over 90 % (185) of them are now generating an income from that lifesaving skill. Before starting with these five women, Bahati, the Executive Secretary of COFAPRI, went to learn the skill so that she could share it with the women; she trained them herself. After having mastered the skill, one of the women offered to volunteer training others. Since then, the sewing has been helping the women to support their families and the community.
In 2018, we already had 13 sewing machines in our Sewing Centre in Munya, but they were all stolen. Thanks to friends and the local leaders’ contribution, we purchased eight sewing machines and so the activities are moving on with satisfaction.
- Rear animals. The activity started with three pigs in 2009. In 2011, all the 11 pigs we had were plundered by trouble-makers and we had to start from scratch. Today, we have 40 pigs in various villages. For fear of another theft, pigs are kept at our members’ homes.
- Do agriculture. We initiated this activity with three women in 2012, but today 104 are involved.
COFAPRI also helps village children who are survivors of war rape and those from destitute families to have access to school education, and in 2012, we started with three children in primary school. We pay school fees and equipment for those children every school year. Today, we are sponsoring 250 children scattered in various schools in the villages of DR Congo.
Life changing DVDs
In 2015, COFAPRI started educating the people to change behaviours and improve their hygienic conditions using educational DVDs. The DVDs have been provided by a UK based charity called Thare Machi Education (TME). We have so far reached an audience of 40,138 people – village women, men, girls and boys in schools and local leaders.
Breaking the barriers of illiteracy
COFAPRI has also been empowering women via learning the basics in reading and writing. The activities started with 12 women in Katana/Kabamba in 2014, and today we have trained almost 250 women. These skills are helping the women a lot in the exercise of sewing and running small business.
Local and traditional leaders have recognised our efforts in empowering women and children.
In 2014, in collaboration with the Kelley Business School of Indiana University in the USA, we adapted a business handbook to be relevant for grassroots women.
Accordingly, in 2016 COFAPRI was graduating 56 women who had been learning the sewing skills in Nyangezi as our first team. On the occasion the traditional local leader, Mr. Cishugi gave a trophy to COFAPRI via Bahati, the Executive Director of the organization, for having empowered the women and the children in the areas local international organisations could not reach.
Again, in 2017, COFAPRI was once more honoured by local leaders during another graduation of the women who had been learning basics in reading and writing in Katana and Kabamba villages. As the ceremony was organised in Katana, Mr. Mugisho who represented COFAPRI was given a trophy by local leaders. The women also decorated him in a golden medal to thank COFAPRI for being a local leading organisation that is involving the women in such a variety of empowerment activities, and that the organisation never left children behind.
COFAPRI has always been thankful to all our supporters because without them, all these steps would have never been reached.