The city of Goma is located in the North Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, along the border area with Rwanda. Armed gangs and guerillas, the illegal diamond market and ongoing conflict in the area have turned this city into one of the most dangerous and insecure in places in Africa.
Goma: the most dangerous city in Africa
The high number of displaced persons who come to Goma as a refuge area has tripled its population in a matter of a few years. Currently, there are at least 1 million displaced persons living there. Living conditions are increasingly precarious, a large part of the population does not have access to drinking water or electricity, much less formal employment or education, daily activities such as washing one’s hands or doing one’s homework, when the sun has gone down, are impossible for the population. The unemployment rate is nearly 80% and the majority of the population lives on less than $1 USD per day. Insecurity in the countryside and the exodus of the rural population seeking refuge in the city has caused the prices of basic food stuffs like flour and milk to skyrocket, causing a hunger crisis.
In such a context, women, together with the child population of the city and slums, are the most vulnerable population group. Goma has the highest number of rapes per day in the world. D.R. Congo reported 1,000 rapes a month, but it is estimated that there could be far, far more due to ongoing armed conflicts. Most of these women are rejected by their families afterward and socially excluded, they are forced to live on the streets with their children.
How do we help them?
In order to help women victims of violence in Goma, we will work together with the Don Bosco Center, which offers them shelter where we can offer psycho-social support, professional training and access to micro-loans as well as support for women entrepreneurs so that they can earn incomes and begin to put their lives back together on a stronger footing. At the same time, we work to dialogue with the community about exclusion and the situation of extreme vulnerability of adolescents and women, through fomenting awareness activities in local neighborhoods and dialogue with neighborhood leadership groups.
The activities that within the project will be:
- Providing accommodation, sustenance, medical and psychological services for 200 women and young girls between 12 and 40 years old.
- Vocational training for women so that they can access a job once the course is finished or create their own micro-enterprises. In addition, in the case of those wanting to self-employ, 50 women will be working on business plans to access microcredits.
- Organization of a literacy learning cycle for 100 young people and women.
- We will educate girls in connection with sexual themes.
- We will work with neighborhood families so that they know the importance of girls going to and finishing school. We will raise awareness about sexual and domestic violence, and how to connect with local authorities, leaders and society in general.
La Maison Marguerite, one of the four houses that make up the Don Bosco Center, is where 200 women will live. In addition, others not living there will attend daily to receive professional training. We will visit Goma neighborhoods and surrounding villages, developing relationships and awareness activities that will help us protect women and girls.