There is a community-based movement taking place in Democratic Republic of the Congo, supported by a program called Succeeding Together. It is structured to help women help each other by providing education, training, and leadership skills for creating businesses, assisting with family health, and economic development. Now that the graduates are enjoying success, they need a little of your help to spread the word about their work. They want to tell the people of Congo about the positive changes they've made in their lives and communities -- and want everyone in Congo to know that they can do it too.
Lasting, positive change in Congo has to come from the people of Congo. And it will.
Details are at the end. But even if you can't donate, Please help spread the word via social media, your friends, and your family.
Succeeding Together is a program that helps women improve their lives by learning leadership skills and then paying it forward. It is run by an organization called HOLD-DRC. HOLD is an acronym for Humanitarian Organization for Lasting Development, and was incorporated as a non-profit inside Democratic Republic of the Congo in April 2012. Succeeding Together is focused on helping single mothers -- teenage, unwed, abandoned -- build a better life for themselves and their communities.
Mothers of children born outside of marriage are often left to the periphery of society. Traditionally, they can hold no position of real respect, and often live with their children in abject poverty with no hope for a better life. There isn't even a common word for "unwed mother" in the DRC -- the term means "girl mother" at best, and it demonstrates that these women are not held in any esteem.
HOLD thinks these women have tremendous value. In fact, they have so much value that they can change the face of Congo.
When a woman enters Succeeding Together, she joins a human development club of about ten other women who are living in her neighborhood. They support each other and share circular credit to help start and grow their businesses. Together, they become leaders in their community.
They complete a comprehensive training program that includes:
- Earning an associate's degree in tailoring, cosmetology, or culinary arts.
- Training in how to run a business.
- Leadership skills, with focus on governance and peer education in human rights and basic health. This includes malaria prevention, HIV prevention, planned approaches to reproduction, and how to avoid and care for common illnesses such as respiratory infections.
- Training in early childhood development. HOLD-DRC also runs a daycare for mothers who are studying in their programs. Day care centers are mostly unknown in the DRC.
- Peer support and opportunities to exercise leadership.
- Peer support in growing their businesses and establishing a credit history.
Most of the people in the DRC who want to start a small business don't have access to microcredit. That involves a bank, and they mostly haven't been in a position to attract one. To that end, HOLD has initiated a rotating credit program. The graduates of Succeeding Together can have access to a small pot of money which they share with a small group of other graduates in their neighborhood. If a group of five women shared a pot of $100, three women might borrow $20 each to grow their businesses and pay back the pot plus interest in six months. Then another woman has a turn to pay it forward. This keeps their businesses growing, and they establish a business ownership and credit history -- which is what a bank or credit institution wants to see before extending microcredit.
These women are sharing what they learned with other women, and together they are making quite an impact. Their lives are changed, their communities are stronger, and they are building a better future for Congo.
They want to tell others how. They want to grow their movement across the country.
There isn't a lot of communication in the DRC aside from national radio, so they need help to spread the word about how this program can help women help each other. Cell phone technology is growing by leaps and bounds, though, and internet access is becoming more common. These technologies are leading the way, so they have a new way to tell Congo about Succeeding Together:
They want to make a viral music video.
Maisha Soul, and Innoss'B are A-list Congolese pop musicians who offered their time, studio, and talents to make and distribute a music video with Succeeding Together graduates to spread a message of hope and change. They need about $1200 to cover fuel and overhead expenses to get started.
Here is a recent Innoss'B video:
Here is the action request:As of this writing, we've collected $815 of $2000 minimum overheard costs needed to start the project.
The graduates of Succeeding Together want to extend their leadership by spreading their message that real change is possible in Congo.
They want to make a music video with famous Congolese musicians Innoss'B and Maisha Soul. If this video gets made, the message will ring across Democratic Republic of the Congo. The musicians have volunteered their time and studio for writing, recording, and filming the video with the women at Succeeding Together. They only need money for gas to run a generator to provide electricity to their studio for the time they need to work.
Activist Kyondra Kennard posted a Kickstarter to raise funds for this video. It will expire on March 13.
If you could donate $5 or $10 to this Kickstarter project, together we can help them help others. If you can't -- could you please spread the word?