ACT for Congo's Executive Director Judy Anderson watches Peer Educators lead a reproductive health seminar at the local high school in Goma, DR Congo. 

ACT for Congo's Executive Director Judy Anderson watches Peer Educators lead a reproductive health seminar at the local high school in Goma, DR Congo. 

HOLD-DRC was barely formed in 2012 when armed conflict came to Goma once again. 40,000+ refugees flooded the area, and there was tremendous pressure on the city. As a fledgling organization, HOLD had few material resources to contribute. They had plenty of knowledge and skills, though, and they put it all to work with a peer leadership program.

The threat of disease in the camps was enormous -- so HOLD trained peer educators to teach basic germ theory, hygiene, and how to prevent likely outbreaks in a crisis of this kind. The makeshift program was tremendously successful, so they honed their methods and made them an integral part of the activities at HOLD.

Peer educators communicate sound information about topics needed in the community. Among those are how to prevent common diseases, such as respiratory infections and diarrhea, and how to properly care for loved ones who are sick. They teach hygiene and stewardship, and give seminars at local high schools about reproductive health and human rights.

HOLD trains men as peer educators, as well as women. Men are part of the community and a necessary part of the solutions. Seminars on reproductive health and proper sexual conduct, for example, are hugely impactful because they involve mixed peer educator teams of both men and women.

These programs have lasting impact on the community, but their impact on the peer educators is even greater. Most of the women who are peer educators came from desperate circumstances -- and they are now strong people that their communities depend on.