United Methodists in the East Congo Episcopal Area are recognizing the efforts of women and girls and empowering them to shape a better future.
Marie Claire Manafundu, program officer of the Maternal and Child Health Program in eastern Congo and wife of Bishop Gabriel Yemba Unda, applauded the clergy spouses and other United Methodist women in Goma, Beni and Kisangani, who are learning new trades to support their families.
“I encourage the women who have given themselves for their self-care,” she said, “despite COVID-19 and lack of peace in some places.”
Manafundu initiated training for United Methodist women to pursue microcredit opportunities.
Ivone Zacky, president of United Methodist Women in Goma, said that more than 30 women in the North Kivu capital received $100 each from the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries to launch various income-enhancing efforts such as selling fish and domestic or forest charcoal for cooking, and starting other small businesses. Four women multiplied their initial $100 to $500, she said.
“Today I am able to feed my family, and I have over $500,” said Marie Sumbu, a widow.
The women of Majengo and Uvira make pastries and soap and provide literacy training, teaching more than 100 women how to read and write.
Mbilizi Bonane, the UMW president in Bukavu, noted that women in Bukavu, Mwenga and Fizi raise vegetables, beans and cassava to feed their families.
Batale Esele, a pastor’s wife from Kisangani, said she bought flour with the seed money and was able to make bread to sell. With the income she has earned, she has been able to pay some of her children’s school fees.
Therese Litalima, also a clergy spouse, bought rolls of thread to make bags to sell. “The money has helped my family a lot and we pray for more donations in the future,” she said.
During March, a month dedicated to women, United Methodists in Congo celebrated in various ways.
In Beni, United Methodist women devoted March 8, International Women’s Day, to meditation and prayer while asking the authorities to restore peace in the region. Justine Tshongo, a United Methodist Women leader in Beni, said an ongoing concern for women in the region is rape.
Beatrice Anunga, women’s coordinator in Kivu, organized an event in Goma to urge women to denounce violations of women's rights.
“If we are silent,” she said, “men take the opportunity to violate our rights.”
Stressing the importance of women’s empowerment, Bishop Unda said, “I continue to advocate for women to be independent and for these rights to be respected.”
Kituka Lolonga is a communicator in the Kivu Conference.
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