Some COFAPRI members, who are war-widows, mould bricks to build their houses or to sell to get cash.
COFAPRI provides widows with with tools, which they share – to help in the brick-making process, such as hoes, machetes, pickaxes and moulders.
The youths of COFAPRI then help them to build. COFAPRI never teaches them to make bricks, they learn it from others.
Widows are also involved in cultivation and crop-growing, for which COFAPRI also provides tools.
In addition, these women also brew traditional beer, ‘kasiksi’, and sell it or use it as incentive for community work. Members of the same village work in each villager’s field in turn and they are given that beer as motivation.
People traditionally use the beer when they meet, share ideas, help one another, and show unity.
Charcoal-making is a major income-generating activity of rural people in DR Congo. We are exploring ways that charcoal-making could become more sustainable, reducing damage to the environment.
Widows and Culture
War widowed young women, as well as older widows, are numerous in the DR Congo. They have become the heads of their families and they need to work. If they do not work, their children cannot have anywhere to sleep or anything to eat. So they break the culture in order for their families to survive.
They say that ‘if no husband is alive, can we wait for the one who does not exist anymore?’
The women whose husbands are alive never do such work. In the DR Congo, cultures have created gendered activities and work. There is work for men and work for women. A woman doing men’s job is said to wish bad luck for her husband and this may cause her abuse in the home. Children are educated accordingly and so they grow knowing that activities are gendered.
Widows and Literacy
Since 2015, COFAPRI has initiated a programme to help women in basics in reading and writing. The women are very motivated and thye believe this process will help them a lot in the future.
They are learning this programme in order to start sewing activities. If they do not know basics in reading and writing, they cannot sew. Those who can read and write are already involved in sewing programme.
These basics can also help the women to get and send written messages to relatives and friends, and even vote for their choice in case there are elections.