Thanks to the ongoing efforts of thisremarkable group, these once-helpless women have received medical care,literacy education, leadership training, and job skills guidance. Once, these women thought they had nofuture; now, they are becoming resourceful leaders, successful entrepreneurs,and contributing members of their communities.
HuguetteNgoie-Kasongo, who founded the organization, was inspired by the Congolesewomen. “Because their voices are Congo’s most important resource, I namedthe group HEAR Congo,” she explained. “The women represent the cornerstone oftheir families. They know and understand the root causes of the problems intheir society. By listening to them, we empower them to transform their livesand their communities.
“We work in three provinces in DR Congo—North Kivu, Lualaba and Kinshasa. We began with only 50 teen mothers in Minova in war-torn eastern Congo. In addition to being taught literacy and numeracy, they learned about sustainable agriculture, climate, water and the environment. We helped them develop vocational and leadership skills.
“Our holistic approach was designed to raise the low Human Development Index in DRC. The results we’ve attained have been extremely encouraging. Our beneficiaries are becoming skilled entrepreneurs as well as peer educators teaching members of their community on specific subjects that affect their lives.
“We have applied the same approach in Kimbaseke, one of the poorest neighborhoods in the outskirts of Kinshasa. We started with 40 women and girls who completed the literacy program. While in job training, they also learned leadership skills and were trained as peer educators in partnership with experts from the Red Cross, the UNDP, and government agencies, UN Women, Monusco and other organizations. They reached out to over 1900 households, schools and churches in their community, teaching about malaria and HIV/AIDS prevention, sexual violence and civil responsibilities”.
In 2016, HEAR Congo partnered with the Social Fund for Tenke Fungurume Mining to provide vocational training in Tenke to youth dropouts. “Our objectives as an organization are to achieve sustainable development where we work,” said Ngoie-Kasongo. “Inevitably, when we looked beyond vocational training, we were faced with many devastating realities in the community. For example, eighty percent of our beneficiaries were teen mothers. Many of them had either worked in the dangerous artisanal mines or been impregnated by artisanal miners.
According to UNICEF, an estimated 40,000 children are working in mines in the Lualaba region. “The needs are enormous and should be considered urgent to stop the scourge of child labor and the exploitation of women and girls in dangerous artisanal mines,” Huguette Ngoie-Kasongo said. “We are working very closely with community leaders to formulate solutions that address our beneficiaries’ needs such as psychosocial therapy support.”
Nearly 350 young people have been given an opportunity to leave the mines for a better future. All of HEAR Congo’s training programs are state certified by the Congolese Ministry of Social Affairs and closely monitored by the Institut National Preparation Professionelle (National Institute of Professional Preparation, or INPP). “We recruit and work with local and international experts to provide our beneficiaries with the best training, giving them a competitive edge in national and global markets readiness,” said Ngoie-Kasongo. She added that HEAR Congo provides start-up matching grants to club members who have banded together to save funds to launch small businesses.
“We continue to be inspired by the success stories of the women and girls whose lives have been enormously impacted by our program,” she said. “Some go back to school while others develop a skill to support members of their families. It’s so rewarding to see them take control of their lives.”
Lubumbashi: 57 Ave Kidicho, Q. Baudouin, Lubumbashi Haut Katanga - Ph: +243995204930
Kinshasa: 1 Ave des Batonniers, Parc Selemba, Gombe - Ph: +243810007782
USA : 14629 SW 104th Street, # 463 Miami Florida 33186 - Ph: +3059704294 - [email protected]
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According to UNICEF, an estimated 40,000 children are working in the mines in the Lualaba region
Nearly 350 young people have been given an opportunity to leave the mines for a better future
“It’s so rewarding to see women take control of their lives.”