To understand more about what we are doing it's good to understand where it's done. This is Mumosho

The recent history is anything but peaceful. During the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, Tutsi survivors crossed the border and came to Mumosho in search of safety. When the genocide ended the Tutsi refugees were replaced by Hutu refugees, some of whom perpetrated the slaughter in Rwanda. The schools and churches were used to house the refugees and much of the local forest was cut down for fuel.

Click here to read more about Mumosho 

 

 

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PROJECT:pharmacy
Mama Janine

Then we met Janine. She is thoughtful and intelligent and she cares. She is also a very experienced nurse having spent many years working at the Panzi hospital. She made it clear she wanted to manage a pharmacy 

The idea of starting up a pharmacy in Mumosho was suggested to us by local people in the summer of 2014.  Our first reaction was to push back. We doubted we would find a qualified person to manage the buying and dispensing of medicine and we were unsure that a pharmacy would be able to repay a loan.

However, the nurse at the Mumosho clinic told us very clearly that he did not have the medical supplies to meet local needs. He said that people had to walk 25 kilometres into Bukavu to buy medicines that were sometimes urgent. He too thought that a pharmacy would be good for the community and offered his support.

Then we met Janine. She is thoughtful and intelligent and she cares. She is also a very experienced nurse having spent many years working at the Panzi hospital. She made it clear she wanted to manage a pharmacy in Mumosho.

 

The clinic offered to collaborate with her and so we worked on a proposal and agreed a two year loan so that she could repay slowly and not put too much pressure on profits. She also made a list of medicines in collaboration with the clinic that cannot be dispensed without a prescription.

The pharmacy is now up and running. We sat inside the shop chatting with her when someone asked her for help with an upset stomach, then someone else came to her with a headache. She talked things through with the people. She doesn’t do anything lightly.

Word has got around and a clinic several kilometres away is now buying from her, as of course is the local clinic. Carefully and with grace Janine is making a difference.

 

Project: community cantine
The Mumosho Women’sgroup

 

The women running the program say that they hope the cantine will expand to become a real Community trading centre.

The Mumosho Women’s Community Cantine is a grassroots business run by local women. It is an everyday business activity that provides community members with many of the basic products such as corn and wheat flour, sugar, cooking oil and rice.

The Cantine allows community members to easily access products at a fair rate and they no longer have to spend time, money and energy walking 25 kilometres to buy the products in Bukavu.   The project started in early May 2014 and the combination of financial support and capacity-building has made the project a successful model of a community based business run by women.

The results so far have been very promising to the point that the project will be sustainable after the loan is refunded. A local community member, a man, told us that ’’we are happy and proud of this program. It is an innovation. We men in the community never expected the women to come up with such a useful and helpful project. What I am mostly happy with is that we regularly have products we never had before unless we went to Bukavu. We are so happy and the prices in the women’s Cantine are very fair - almost the same comparatively to what items cost in Bukavu.’’

The women running the program say that they hope the cantine will expand to become a real Community trading centre. They would like to transform it into a distribution and sale centre for all commodity products needed at a community level. They would also like to make the Cantine a successful grassroots Microfinance Institution through which community members can save and get loans so that they are able to provide for themselves, their families and the community as a whole.

The Mumosho Women’s Community Cantine is responding to real needs expressed within the community. The result is strong community ownership and a program that helps to build the local economy using its own resources with support from Luminosity and Ensemble pour la Difference. 

Project: Peace market
Amani

Amani’s name means “peace-warrior” in Swahili.  And he lives up to his name.  He believes the solutions to Congo’s problem’s are all around the Congolese.  He works to help them see these solutions, and capitalize on them, by building the capacity of young entrepreneurs and visionaries.

Amani’s name means peace in Swahili. Or, as is the case with this man, peace-warrior. He was in his early 20s when his father and mother were killed in Congo’s World Wars. A generous relative stood in for his parents and offered to pay for his university education. After finishing school, he traveled through the most remote areas of eastern Congo and saw the impact of the war with his own eyes. Now 35, and the father of 6 children, Amani has dedicated his life to rebuilding his country. He is the founder of ABFEK, a community development organization that empowers war-affected women and children.

Amani always says, “I want my people to understand that the solutions to their problems are all around them.”

These solutions begin with the community. Before he does anything, he first spends a great deal of time asking the community about their needs and working with every level of society to devise solutions.

Falling Whistles has invested in two specific projects with ABFEK. In 2011 we supported Amani in opening one of Bukavu’s first hair care training salons for women who were victims of sexual violence. After rehabilitation, the most pressing question often facing a woman is – where am I going to find a job?  Hair care is a male dominated profession in Congo, but a female dominated past-time. Congolese women love hair. So why not make them professionals?

Three of the women who went through the training are now opening their own salon. And it is a vibe. Music blasting, women chatting, the whole place just buzzing. We look forward to many more salons owned and operated by women in Congo.We also worked with Amani to build a new Peace Market in Mumosho. This district of South Kivu sits on Rwanda’s border, and has been decimated by decades of violence and displacement.  For years the women have walked the 27 kilometers to Bukavu in order to sell their goods, risking rape, attack and theft.Today they walk down the street and sell to their neighbors.

The 159-stall open air marketplace has promoted a local micro economy, with space for farmers, craftsmen, fishermen and others to sell, trade and barter their goods.  And because Mumosho is a border town, it has also provided a space for peaceful interaction, conversation and commerce between Rwandans and Congolese.

We were so impressed with Amani that we hired him full-time to work alongside our partners to develop sustainable enterprises for their own work. Like Amani, we believe the solutions to Congo’s problems come from those living within them.  He is living proof.

Amani is a whistleblower.

 
 

Mumosho is a groupement of 27 villages and scattered farmsteads that is home to about 50,000 people. The centre is located near the border with Rwanda in the foothills above the Rusizi River, 25 kilometres south of Bukavu.

Getting to Mumosho from Bukavu takes an hour and a half on a rough dirt road that passes through the shanty suburbs of Essence and Panzi eventually out into hills and forests that provide a scenic backdrop to what is now a peaceful community.

The recent history is anything but peaceful. During the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, Tutsi survivors crossed the border and came to Mumosho in search of safety. When the genocide ended the Tutsi refugees were replaced by Hutu refugees, some of whom perpetrated the slaughter in Rwanda. The schools and churches were used to house the refugees and much of the local forest was cut down for fuel.

In 1996 at the outbreak of the first Congo war, the allies of Laurent Kabila used Mumosho as a gateway from Rwanda into Congo and the Hutu refugees fled into the hills from where they launched attacks on the villages. The Congolese army engaged the former allies of Laurent Kabila in the Mumosho area and many local people died in the fighting, notably in front of the church where people where shot by soldiers.

In 1998 the Congolese Coalition for Democracy forces, backed by Rwanda, again crossed the border around Mumosho and the area once again became a battlefield.

The people have also had to deal with the affects of a hydroelectric power station on the Rusizi River. It was built back in 1982 as a joint project between Rwanda, Burundi and DRC. However the buildings were built mostly on the Congolese side of the river using land sequestered at a low price from local people. The land was flat and good for farming and its loss continues to create bad feeling amongst the people who struggle to survive from steep hillside plots of land. Another tract of local land has been acquired by a German pharmacy company, which has left very little land for community use. Protests continue to this day, sometimes resulting in police intervention.

Land shortages mean that some families and especially the kids are malnourished. Instead of living off the land many people have to run a small business such as making doughnuts or charcoal or they walk into the hills to mine for minerals. It’s difficult to survive but at least the road to Bukavu is now safe and it’s feasible for traders to walk there and back in a day and bring goods to sell in the villages.

Despite the history of war and the continuing poverty, Mumosho is a friendly and welcoming community. This is because of the mix of people from different tribes and busy trading environment as people try to make something of their lives. We work here with several women’s groups to help them start larger businesses such as a cantine, pharmacy and brick making factory, all of which are making a positive contribution to daily life.