Helping Students in the DRC: Destine's and Jeannette's Stories
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)'s third-largest city, Goma, and the surrounding North Kivu province suffered particularly badly during years of civil conflict, starting in 1996, during which some 5.4 million people died, mostly from disease and starvation. Continued political instability and armed attacks against civilians have further disrupted the region’s economic recovery. Youth unemployment is extremely high, and young people remain vulnerable to threats including sexual assault and recruitment into armed groups.
Through the Students Rebuild One Million Bones Challenge, the Bezos Family Foundation provided funds to CARE, so they could support these young people with educational and vocational support and economic development skills at ETN Vocational School.
In this final update report, we highlight a few last success stories for young people assisted through the OMB Challenge.
I’m Destine Mutalemba, an 18-year-old girl. I decided to choose electronics as a profession, a choice that surprised more than one person. I chose this industry because at first I thought I could not do what people expect of women (sewing, cosmetics, culinary arts, hairstyling, etc.); secondly, I told myself that I'm going to make it in life if I decide to do my job well; finally, if a girl is able to do her job very well, she will always be able to compete with boys and will certainly not go unemployed.
I am confident that the money I earn with my work will allow me to live my dream, my self-esteem will grow, people will respect me and my needs will be met. I sincerely thank those who supported this program through CARE and ETN for thinking of those of us who are vulnerable. Today we have rediscovered the joy of living as we’re reintegrating into the community.
My name is Jeannette Masika. I am a 17-year-old mother. I was assaulted at age 15 and abandoned by my parents. I have benefited from vocational training in business through the program. With this training, and thanks to the support from the CARE psychologist, I am convinced that my life is restored and I feel like a real human being.
I took advantage of the training, which was a blessing for me, a platform that allows me to stand on my own. Today I am a seamstress. I know that with this training I will be able to sew clothes and earn money. Also, the VSLA (village savings and loan) remains for us a strong link, like a family gathering everyone together. We share the savings, mutual assistance and small gains that allow us to stay balanced in the community.