Diritti Umani, Empowerment per donne e ragazze

Maman Kaya, DRC

Maman Tshikut Kayakez Albertine, 49 years old, or Maman Kaya as she is commonly known, lives with her elderly mother and her nine children, seven boys, and two girls in Kanina, Democratic Republic of Congo. Her father died. He was a tailor, and his old tailoring machines can still be seen lying around the house and near the main entrance. A beloved profession of her father, which once sustained the family, now remains a memory. Maman Kaya never imagined it would become her own trade, amidst the desperate situation she found herself in after her father’s passing.

 I was only able to study until the second year of secondary school because my mother could not afford to pay my school fees after my father died. Since I was no longer going to school, I had to get married early at 18 years old.

Maman Kaya’s husband then abandoned her and the children several years ago.

When I was still together with my husband, he had helped me to start up a small business selling such things as cooking oil, salt, sugar, spices, flour, biscuits, sweets, corned beef, and other food items. In 2014, my husband decided to leave me and the children. At that time, the youngest child was only six months old. He carried away everything from the shop! He left us helpless, without much hope. I was forced to beg for food to keep my children alive. It was a great struggle for us.

Despite the difficulties in life, Maman Kaya boldly took up the role of breadwinner. Now she does both tailoring and baking. You can often see her very busy at her tailoring shop and at the Bon Pasteur compound in Kanina, kneading the dough and feeding the ovens to make bread, to sell in the nearby community.

During the time that we were struggling, I heard from other women in the neighbourhood about Bon Pasteur training for girls and women. I went to their office where they interviewed, registered, and asked me to wait for a later date. I was very happy when they finally called me for the tailoring course.

After the completion of the course, she asked her mother to help find some money to buy a new sewing machine and start a small tailoring business on the verandah of the house.

Over time I built a little shop where I am now offering tailoring services. I repair clothes and also create new designs for clients. Sometimes, when a client asks for a design that I don’t know well, I just go and ask for help from the teachers at Bon Pasteur Training Center: they kindly lend their expertise and guidance, always.

Besides tailoring, she also attended a baking course, aiming to diversify her income beyond the tailoring trade. Maman Kaya recounts with a smile that, thanks to the Bon Pasteur and GSIF’s support for her family and community, her children can now receive an education. Bon Pasteur’s initiative to enrol children in schools brings immense joy to her.

 

It is always tough for a woman when she can’t feed her children or take them to school: she risks falling into depression due to helplessness and lack of empowerment. We no longer have to struggle to work in the copper and cobalt mines. Even the children used to work in the mines, which they no longer do. Through training, we had the chance to set up our businesses or find jobs. I no longer struggle as much as I used to. I have been empowered. I am much better off now than I used to be. I and my children are living better. I am not the only one who has been helped – many more women have benefitted and have been raised out of tough situations.

 

Learn more about the Bon Pasteur program in DRC

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