"I had information from a friend about COFAPRI and from that day, I hunted them to take me in their sewing centre. I learned sewing for six months and now I can sew well. I earn money, I touch money... See me, sister! I could not even get a coin before but today I feel peace in my pocket, in my mind, with my eight children, in my family and my husband does not suffer alone anymore. We have to help COFAPRI push far with what they are doing to help the women in our villages here. If we want, we can change our lives, we have to be willing to learn new things, talk to people and share the good news with others...On behalf of our centre, we thank COFAPRI very much for this initiative here.... you also involve the leaders here. Some of them are now our customers." - Mapenzi M’Mihigo
By Mugisho Ndabuli Theophile, Founder/Exec. Director, COFAPRI
Since 2009, COFAPRI has been empowering women and children in the villages of eastern DR Congo. The women are involved in income generating activities, such as sewing, small business, animal rearing and cultivation, as well as changing behaviors via educational DVDs, kindly supplied by Thare Machi Education (TME), and learning the basics in reading and writing.
Over time, the women have been doing well in their lives, which has been helping them improve their lifestyles. Some stories from their mouths can be motivational; here are some from a few of the women:
Neema Cecille is 31, married and mother of two children. She joined COFAPRI in February 2018, as she got information from her neighbour who was already a member of COFAPRI. She urges all the women no matter where they are to never give up, to never be hopeless but to talk to other women and share with them their opinions. Neema is happy to share her experience of the COFAPRI sewing centre. Since she joined, her life has been different.
"I am glad today you came here and I am ready to share with everyone about how sewing is changing my life. Thank you, sister and thanks to COFAPRI. Yes, no woman should cry, no woman should be poor or unhappy in life. We should not neglect our womanity or isolate ourselves in our huts. See how I am very grateful to Maria who brought me to COFAPRI. Sewing was neglected here by many and no woman was doing it. In fact, we did not know it can be this helpful in life. It is helping me and my family and the village. I am asking my sisters here today that if they see something to learn, they must do it because no one knows what can help you in the future. I had no beginning and no end before I came here. I was spending days and weeks wondering what to eat, what to do to send my children to school, what, what and what. But see me now, my heart is full of joy. I no more think and think and can’t find an answer. Today, if I think, I must find a solution. I have my sisters around me, and I am earning some money. Not a big amount but what I get is making me smile and feel proud. I thank COFAPRI and our mother here. God bless you in everything you do. You are our mother and we thank all the people who help us, and they have never seen us that we love them. You and them, you are our roots. You make us grow morally and financially. Many thanks."
Mapenzi M’Mihigo is in her 40’s and has eight children. She has been learning sewing at Munya Sewing Centre since 2018. She confided to COFAPRI Executive Secretary, Bahati Valerie, that learning the sewing skill for six months has been helping her a lot financially, morally and socially. She calls for any other woman to join her sewing centre.
"We as women, we have to open up and share news with our sisters, mothers and daughters who know us. I had information from a friend about COFAPRI and from that day, I hunted them to take me in their sewing centre. I learned sewing for six months and now I can sew well. I earn money, I touch money, I eat money and I can smell money now. See me, sister! I could not even get a coin before but today I feel peace in my pocket, in my mind, with my eight children, in my family and my husband does not suffer alone anymore. We have to help COFAPRI push far with what they are doing to help the women in our villages here. If we want, we can change our lives, we have to be willing to learn new things, talk to people and share the good news with others. Women can better help other women if they have that good heart. On behalf of our centre, we thank COFAPRI very much for this initiative here. It is helping our children and ourselves. We are happy, in everything you do, you also involve the leaders here. Some of them are now our customers.
We thank all those who help COFAPRI to help us and all of you, may you feel peace as I am feeling it in my pocket and in my home now. God bless you all!"
Another story is that of Busime Alice who is rearing a COFAPRI pig. She has four children and her husband is blind. Alice works hard to feed her family thanks to the animal rearing and small business she built up with help from the organisation. She is happy that the pig has been very helpful to her and her family, though it is not easy to feed it healthily.
Empowering is something we like a lot and we had been looking for it since long before it came. I like the pig I was given because when it has piglets, I only give one to COFAPRI and all the others are for me. So, I have to feed her well so that she can give me many piglets. I prefer pigs because they are very productive, which helps us to support our families. Last time, in April, it produced nine piglets and I was a queen after five months. It is tiresome to feed her, but it gives joy when the babies grow.”