PROJECT: PEACE MARKET
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.