The beard says out loud in broad daylight what the braids told him at night. Kongo proverb
Ce que la barbe dit au grand jour et à haute voix, c’est ce que les tresses lui ont raconté la nuit : Proverbe Kongo
Too often women are kept quiet or not allowed to participate in decisions that affect their lives. The proverb above acknowledges the influence a woman might have, but it is sideways. (The “power of the pillow” is a universally accepted phrase, isn’t it?) The tragedy is that too often women don’t recognize the voice they do have, or don’t know how to use it effectively. The result can be fear, frustration and isolation. Young women who’ve become mothers too early are often shunned or shamed. As a result, they lose faith in their own voice and capabilities. They drop out of school, they no longer participate in their faith group activities like youth group or choir, and are often relegated to the periphery of society. This can breed resentment, apathy and hopelessness. Sometimes it erupts in violence toward their children and family.
ACT for Congo is working with Congolese partners who recognize the value to society of including—and empowering—these young mothers and their children. It provides information to them –and through them to the wider community through a peer education program that changes the dynamic from ignorance to power. Learning about preventing the most common diseases, how sexual reproductive health works, basic hygiene and sanitation, and how to prevent pregnancy can make a huge difference. This is building long-term capacity in the community which
- improves health,
- is linked to the public health system, and
- it is locally-owned.
Modestine Etoy, who is Program Manager of our partner in Goma, comes to the US next week. We’ll be attending a Quality Improvement seminar at the University of Wisconsin to learn and share, improving the ways our partner can gather and use data to make the work more effective, and more ably share it!
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Peace to you,