We started by sponsoring five children to go to elementary school, because I believe that education is the only way you can help people and help humanity.
Two of my cousins were victims of sexual abuse in Walungu, and they came to my house seeking refuge, shelter -- in Congo, when a woman or girl is raped, she is shunned and rejected by the community. There was no reason to reject them or discriminate against them. So we started a sewing workshop program. We only had three sewing machines. My wife is a seamstress and we agreed on training them. And then the word was spreading, and other women were joining the program. Last year we were able to graduate 32 women from the sewing workshop program. My wife is still a trainer in the program -- she is there every day, and she never gets paid.
This is another way to fight back -- by continuing to empower women no matter what happened against them, to make them understand that it is not their fault what has happened to them, and give them hope by teaching them vocational skills and accepting them in the community.
I have four daughters and two sons -- my oldest daughter is 15, my youngest son is six. When they were younger, it was difficult for them to understand that I had to use my little income to invest in helping people who really need it. But my children, especially my daughters, have now understood that it has to be done and that each and everyone must bring their contributions. Any time we have an event at Action for the Welfare of Women and Children, I invite my children so they can grow up with this commitment, this compassion, this idea of helping people who need to be helped.
Do I feel like my daughters are safe? It is difficult to say. We live in the city of Bukavu. It is a situation where anything happens any time, so we don’t say, “We are safe.”