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Modestine Etoy, HOLD-DRC Program Manager.

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She is one of a group of dedicated professionals to found HOLD-DRC. It was her vision that start a program for teen and abandoned moms and their children that teaches certified vocational programs and life changing skills to women who were otherwise left to live on the periphery of society in Eastern Congo. 1206 women have graduated thus far (2017) with life skills and real ability to earn daily income. It is state-issued certificates which they earn through hard work and effort. Successful ability to provide services and manage a small business help them feed their children, send them to school, and start on a road to participation in community life, and confidence that they can take good care of themselves and others. She...

...makes literacy programs possible so women can read and write -- which is necessary to obtail state certification of theirability.

...works with local officials, NGOs, faith and community leaders in finding pathways to solve the situation caused by unplanned pregnancy, unregistered marriage and births, and the despair, shame and loss of hope it results in.   This has led to advocacy for policy change in the practice of automatic exclusion from school for pregnancy.

…works with environmental advocates to educate children and their parents on the importance of the environment and its relationship to health and wellbeing. In fact, there’s a children’s environment club which meets at HOLD, “Friends Protecting Nature”. Kids from 6 to 18 learn and teach what they’ve learned in schools and public events.

…uses art, drama and poetry to communicate information and invite community discussion. Girls have written and recorded songs on issues: peace, stand up for your rights, succeeding together. Peer educators use all of the above in their messaging about public health and issues that affect the community, from family planning to conflict transformation, preventing HIV and water-borne diseases to the rights guaranteed to women and children in the Congolese constitution.

…encourages beneficiaries and graduates to remain involved and advocate for their children and neighbors.

…knows the power of media, and have a website (www.holddrc.org) and Facebook presences. All produced in Goma!

...and she knows the value of partnership and that’s why (wwwactforcongo.org) was created.

Rogatien Mwandjalulu, MD. OB-GYN, Board Member of HOLD-DRC, President of the Executive Council.

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Dr. Rogatien grew up in a rural area of south Kivu, but since he was sent to Goma as a freshly-graduated doctor, he has called it home.  He worked in the General Hospital, then in the Psychiatric Hospital, and was in Goma during the many crises since 1994.  He went to Benin for specialization in Obstetrics & Gynecology. He returned to Goma in 2006, where where he was in charge of OB-GYN and the supervision of medical residents ,employed by HEAL Africa until 2012.  He is passionate about professional care for his patients, and about improving access to quality care for people in Congo.  Dr. Josh Bress, (ED of Global Strategies, who spent a year as pediatrician working at HEAL Africa, called him “the best OB-GYN in Congo”). 

He is now head of OB-GYN at Charité Maternelle, a maternity hospital in Goma, and is President of the Executive Committee of the board of HOLD-DRC.  In that capacity he has taught numerous classes about diseases commonly seen in Goma and sexual and reproductive health systems—so that they in turn can teach others and refer their friends and family to good care when needed. 

Dr. Rogatien is also passionate about research, and he has twice received invitations to address FIGO, a world congress for OB-GYNs.   He recently led a team which completed a provincial-wide evaluation of Maternal Child Health services in hospitals and clinics. Improving service. Improving access to healthcare that will reduce maternal and child mortality. He’s a professional, and he’s committed to DR Congo. He’s the father of five, and his desire is to work with the young graduates to instill professional ethics in the new generation. Of the present, he says, “Many Congolese have lost hope in Congo, they just want to leave; that’s why I want to work with the young ones and help create networks of professionals that will re-invigorate the culture of good practice. People know what to do, but they don’t do it.” 

Idris Bora, HOLD DRC Board Member, Administration & Finance.

He’s the father of four. He has a Master’s in Hospital Administration. He’s a founding member of HOLD-DRC, and he’s the Financial/Administrative officer in eastern DRCongo  for Christoffel Blinden Mission (CBM), an organization that provides funding for disability/corrective surgery.   He has worked closely with Modestine from the very beginning to make sure that the financial framework of HOLD is well set up and the reporting and accounting systems are world-class.   He cares deeply about the future of his country, and he and his family (his wife is a professional accountant) are committed to improving the situations that will improve the Human Development Index of DR Congo.   He went to school in Kinshasa, but came back to North Kivu and worked at HEAL Africa as Internal Auditor until 2012. 

Idris Bora is a lion who looks like a lamb. He is gentle and soft-spoken, with character of steel.  He knows that organizations are built and kept in health by good communications, good systems, and good audits. HOLD-DRC was created by people who have worked with international organizations, who understand the context of DR Congo, and are committed to making a difference where they can.

Mama Nsimire, Lead Counselor.

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Counseling is a key in creating an environment where women learn and feel cared for. There are individual sessions. Each new member of every cohort is assigned a counselor and is followed personally. There are group sessions on general topics.  There are support groups (“therapy”) that group women in the same situation. They’ve found it’s more effective.

Counselors make home visits. They mediate family divisions. They help reconcile partners, cohort members and families.  Mama Nsimire is the lead counselor, a trained and experienced psychologist.