International Women’s Day would be a time to write about the horrible problem of rape and sexual abuse in the Congo and I am, in fact, going to the Break The Silence Forum today at the New School in Manhattan. It will include a screening of Lisa Jackson’s award-winning documentary, “The Great Silence: Rape In The Congo” and a panel featuring four amazing women, Nita Evele (Congo Global Action), Vinie Burrows (Actor/Lifetime Activist), Jennifer Thomas-Boateng (Program Coordinator, WILPF NY Metro), and Misengabo Esperance (photographer/Georges Malaika Foundation).
But rather than write about the horrors of war today, I’d rather shine a light on an organization that Misengabo brought to my attention, The Georges Malaika Foundation. That small but dedicated group is providing educational opportunities for young women in the Congo, the surest path to a brighter future. Their mission statement says it all:
The Georges Malaika Foundation is dedicated to the advancement of African communities by providing educational opportunities to young girls, aged 5 to 18. Its vision is to mobilize the resources necessary to overcome the insurmountable obstacles a young girl faces to obtain an education in the Democratic Republic of Congo. GMF will provide assistance that paves the way for opportunity, generates greater choice and empowers girls to make informed decisions. GMF endeavors to permanently alter the cycle of illiteracy and poverty within the D.R. Congo.
Ambitious goals, certainly, but the organization has made tremendous progress since its founding just two years ago by international model Noella Coursaris Musunka. In the first year, the GMF raised funds to sponsor 18 girls from Maison Magonne to attend the Ecole Primaire Salongo in Lubumbashi.
As commendable as such efforts are, the foundation’s sights are set even higher, with plans well underway to construct a school in the Quartier Kalebuka in Lubumbashi. The authorities of the Katanga region–including the Governor, the Minister of Education, and the Mayor of Lubumbashi District–have endorsed an entitlement of land for construction of the GMF school and a grant has been secured to prepare construction plans and estimates.
The single most important factor in breaking the cycle of poverty and violence is education. The Georges Malaika Foundation is bringing that hope to the Congo.