Editor's Note: This post was co-authored by Alysha Atma, Executive Director of the Atma Foundation and Jenna Kunz, Director of Hand in Hand. Mrs. Atma is also a published writer and reviewer of literature surrounding the continent of Africa and co-founder of the Oregon Coalition for Humanity. Jennavieve Kunz is a student at the University of Portland, where she is pursuing a degree in political science with a minor in social justice.
Enough’s partner organization, The Atma Foundation, has teamed up with a local Congolese organization, Centre Kitumaini to create the Hand in Hand Program, which works to economically empower survivors of gender-based violence.
The program provides economic opportunities for women survivors of gender-based violence, who have been turned away from their communities due to the stigmas of assault. The program teaches women to breed, care for and profit from livestock. So far, Hand in Hand has helped to provide livestock to over 500 women in Bukavu, eastern Congo, through its various initiatives. One initiative,Henna for Hope, provides opportunities for local schools, faith groups and communities to combine art and advocacy on behalf of the program.
Studies show that a consistent income increases the likelihood that children will attend school and that women will receive medical attention. Therefore, the Congolese women partners in this project believe that the Hand in Hand program serves as a sustainable business model as well as a resource for providing food for their children.
No longer facing the dangers of malnutrition, the women in these programs are taking on new leadership roles in their communities. They independently organize marches, address pressing domestic issues, and become agents of change – all while representing women and families in their advocacy. This resilient group of women maintains a steadfast commitment to bringing change within their institutions and to ensuring that their children have a bright future.
Some of the dangers in international work can often include unsustainable aid and a loss of the national will and insight into a country’s conflict. However, the Hand in Hand Program addresses these by investing in the families of Congo to build their economic future. It ensures that these individuals’ voices are heard through our partnership and echoed around the world. By investing in the economic stability of women and families, we can uphold these ideals and continue to support Congolese efforts for self-determination and work for sustainable peace and justice within DRC.
To support these changemakers and their families, one can get involved in the project by sharing the video, making a donation, or sparking conversation about the campaign on social media with the hashtag #Atma100.