My name is Claudine Migisha and I’m from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). I am 27 years old and the founder of Nguvu Ya Africa (Power of Africa), a creative nonprofit organization (see https://www.nguvuyaafrica.org/). My journey began when I became orphaned and lost both of my parents at the age of 6. While growing up, I suffered hunger and sleepless nights because of war, and I was shut down and traumatized. Despite all difficulties, I managed to acquire a university education through a MasterCard Foundation Scholarship. Today I am a graduate of Africa University Zimbabwe with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Watson Institute alumnus. I thank God and to all my wonderful teachers and supporters who saw me through this journey - such as my family, CIYOTA, Golden Bridge, Watson Institute, and the MasterCard Foundation. After decades of conflict in the DRC, women and girls continue to suffer disproportionately from the crisis. Also, COVID-19 has increased the level of trauma that women and girls are experiencing in hospitals, orphanages, and rural communities. These women and girls offer one of the best hopes for peace and stability.
Nonsi, for example, is a 13-year-old who was internally displaced and is living in the Kinyamahura camp with her mother. She fled from a conflict-affected region in the northeast of the DRC known as Kiwanja. At first, she could barely tell her story when I visited. Traumatized and frightened, she cried and said she missed her dad and that they were struggling to get food to survive. Nonsi is also a survivor of a brutal rape by the men who attacked her family, forcing her family to flee from their home. Like Nonsi, many marginalized girls and women are experiencing hunger and sleepless nights because of the tragedies of the ongoing conflict, as well as COVID-19. Today Nonsi remains displaced with her mother. She doesn’t know what to do or where to go, as it is not safe for them to return home. She does farming activities daily to sustain herself and her mother. Nonsi is just a 13-year-old girl and, like other girls, she has a promising future if given support and the skills needed to achieve her potential.
Nguvu Ya Africa is dedicated to serving girls and women like Nonsi so that they all can realize their dreams. I started Nguvu Ya Africa as a solution to the toughest political and economic crises facing my community and to give hope to girls like Nonsi. By supporting our “THE WELL-BEING OF GIRLS AND WOMEN SURVIVING THE COVID-19 IN DR Congo MATTERS!” campaign, you will be contributing to achieving peace and sustainability in the Congo by creatively breaking the cycle of trauma among girls and women in marginalized communities.
With the world crisis leading to the current country lockdowns and people losing their jobs, the most affected people are women and girls. This is a serious problem that affects the families andthe country at large. Girls and women in North Kivu (in the northeast of the DRC), especially in rural communities in these times of the COVID-19 pandemic, do not have access to psychological programs or the education that could empower them. At Nguvu Ya Africa, we believe we can restore the familylivelihood and hope in our communities by providing empowerment programs for girls and women. If girls and women are given support and encouragement, we can build a more peaceful and sustainable Congo.
We all must take concrete action in these times of world trauma if we are to realize our potentials. The $20,000 raised will be used for the socio-economic promotion of these girls and women through:
· Providing Creative experiences that inspire inner awareness, healing, and orientationtoward a productive future
· Teaching life skills, as well as mental health support activities, to enable girls and women to cope withthe damage caused by COVID-19, in order to find well being for themselves and the families and communities around them
· Menstrual health education and eco-friendly reusable pad production to sustain theirbodies and sustain the collective environment.