There are many polygamous families in DR Congo. Amelie's family of origin was one. She was one of six children by her mother. When her mother died, life became difficult – mainly because the other mothers advocated strongly for their own children, and she could not compete for her father's attention. She felt pushed aside and forgotten.
All six of her mother's children eventually went to live with different relatives. They were forced out of school, because there was no money to pay tuition or fees. Amelie started living and working with her aunt.
She met a man and fell in love, and soon became pregnant. When she told him about the pregnancy, he left her. Her aunt felt that she was a huge disgrace, and shunned her completely. Her lost her family's respect, and she felt deeply shamed.
Her son motivated her, though. She vowed, “I didn’t get the chance to finish my studies, but my son will study in good schools. I would like him to be a good Christian so that he can grow up to be a doctor or an airplane pilot.” She also vowed to become rich enough to support the people in her family who called her a loser.
Amelie came to HOLD-DRC, and entered the Culinary Arts Program. She got a $15 loan from a rotating credit account and quickly built up a business selling gourmet street food. She paid back her loan and managed to build her business capital to nearly $100 when she had a terrible setback.
Because she was making specialty food, a lot of her ingredients were not local. She had a large fraction of her business capital tied up in an order, and the delivery truck got held up by a militia. By the time the truck got to Goma, most of her ingredients had spoiled. She could not salvage ingredients to make anything she could sell, so she lost the business capital she needed to continue.
Not to be outdone by circumstances, Amelie turned to her lessons learned. She had solid business training at HOLD, and knew that she could make some changes to her plan. Because of her track record, her Human Development Club approved another small loan so she could rebuild. This time, she made gourmet food, but only from local ingredients. She paid back her loan quickly, and her new business is growing.
Today, she is respected in her community as a competent business woman who can send her children to school. She is building a life for herself and her family, and advocates for herself based on her solid achievements.
All of the women at HOLD belong to a Human Development Club that provides continuing support, education, and access to resources when needed.