Since 2000, W4’s field project in the DR Congo, SOFEPADI, has been working in the territory of Beni, a city long ravaged by war and still in the midst of turmoil, where people live in danger day after day. The situation of extreme insecurity prevents women from performing their usual field-work activities as they are vulnerable to being attacked, abducted, or raped on the road or in their own fields.
Owing to cultural restrictions, women here have no power in the decision-making process and it is difficult for them make a living as the field equipment and products are managed by men. According to reports, there are only 640,130 people now living in the territory of Beni — an astonishingly sparse population — as a result of war and its aftermath. Moreover, the war has caused families to crumble, leaving women and children most severely at risk of violence and extreme poverty.
W4’s field project in the DR Congo, SOFEPADI, has provided five training centers in Beni, in which victims of sexual violence, along with other acutely vulnerable women, can acquire specific vocational skills such as cutting and sewing, embroidery, basket weaving, and pastry making.
The project aims to train fifty women in the art of cutting and sewing, an essential skill that can empower a woman to create an independent and sustainable livelihood for herself and her children. In addition to being taught by a range of 10 expert artisans during a six-month program, these women will gain business expertise and a knowledge of women’s rights, enabling them to create their own enterprises in order to provide for their own and their children’s needs.
At the culmination of the training course, our program provides each woman with a vital business kit that includes: a sewing machine, sewing accessories, and a small start-up fund. A well-qualified team of SOFEPADI facilitators follows each woman’s progress through the successive stages of the project.
THE IMPACT OF GIVING
This project helps survivors of sexual violence, as well as other vulnerable women, to learn a trade and create income-generating activity, while also informing the women of their rights and helping them to develop their self-confidence, which in turn helps them to gain respect in their society.
In addition to integrating back into their society, the women become financially self-sufficient, are able to educate their children, have access to health care, manage their own incomes, and, eventually, lift themselves out of the cycle of poverty.
You can help change the lives of acutely vulnerable women and their children in Beni! Your gift helps survivors of sexual violence to rebuild their lives, regain confidence, and achieve the security they need in order to create a hopeful future in a city severely diminished and shaken by war. Together, we can make a difference!
“I have received global support through SOFEPADI and today I am able to sew, and am once again autonomous. Thanks to the SOFEPADI program, I have received training for six months in cutting and sewing with the other women. The time spent in the training center helped me a lot psychologically because we had a lot of time to share our experiences with one another. Not only did I learn how to sew, but I know my rights and duties as a woman. - Marth Kavira, SOFEPADI training recipient-