According the United Nations, the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) eastern region is the “worst place to be born a woman”. Why? Sexual violence, conflict, exploitation, lack of rights, isolation.

Legendary peace activist Neema Namadamu, herself a resident of Congo, states, “Women know how to stand together and support one another. We are ‘for’ one another. We are family. We are community.”

The Partnership for Congolese Women’s Health was established on this premise, bringing together advocates and organizations whose mission is to empower Congolese women and their communities. Our work stretches from Clarkston, GA to DR Congo’s South Kivu province, serving newly arrived refugee women and many of the remote communities they left behind. Many of these new Americans are survivors of sexual violence during conflict, and all have witnessed the horrors of war--the longest running conflict since World War II.

Domestically, we are partnering with Lutheran Services of GA to provide a series of Congolese Women’s Health Days in 2016, utilizing our Women’s Circle program. These workshops offer a respite from the stresses of resettlement, foster social connection, deliver targeted women's health education, preventative screenings, and linkages to specialized services for their nuanced reproductive and mental health needs. Most of all, it is a time to celebrate the power of resiliency, while laying a foundation to thrive in their new home.

In South Kivu, DRC, we honored to join forces with our sister Neema, her Maman Shujaa collective, and the Synergy of Congolese Women’s Associations. This coalition is dedicated to uplifting marginalized and disabled women in rural communities, via programs of education and economic empowerment. Here, our work is fourfold: Goal 1: Provide clean, potable water to the Maman Shujaa’s Itombwe Center, which provides training in computer literacy, tailoring, and sustainable agriculture. The center also houses the local Days for Girls program, a sanitary pad microenterprise. The water system project will further benefit the adjacent health clinic, currently operating devoid of water. Goal 2: Create reproductive health curricula for schools and community health workers. Goal 3: Bolster Days for Girls program with health education and evaluation framework. Goal 4: Procure ambulance for clinic, in order to reduce infant mortality and poor maternal health outcomes associated with obstructed labor.