Story — Restoring dignity

September 18, 2015Bishop Désiré, Centre for Women and Children, Claudaline, Goma, Hephzi Pemberton, Story, Tumaini Orphan School

At the Centre for Women and Children, Désiré and Claudaline are working tirelessly to heal the scars of war, and help people rebuild their lives.

Semiliki Trust has supported the couple who run the Centre for four years, which provides both vocational training to women and runs an orphanage in Goma, Bukavu region.

The Centre was recently chosen to be a recipient of funds raised by a documentary film about one women’s work amongst her peers to help overcome the traumatic effects of violence experienced during the war years. The award winning film, ‘Seeds of Hope’, was screened in London in March by Semiliki supporter Hephzi Nicol.

Money raised through the film has primarily been used to support the Centre’s vocational training project. Over sixty women, victims of violence, some of whom have also been rejected by their families, others who are HIV positive, are being trained in tailoring skills and dying fabrics. The aim is that they will be able to make clothes to sell locally. In Désiré’s words, the vocational training “promotes [the women’s] dignity, respect and self reliance to earn a living and not be dependent.” The women are also provided with a forum to support one another, work and pray together and study the Bible. Désiré thanks God for this opportunity to “bring about hope”.

Tailoring student at the Women & Children's Centre 2 Dying fabrics at the vocational training project

One woman who found hope at the Centre for Women and Children is Bienfait [name changed]. An orphan herself, Bienfait was abused by a soldier at the age of 14 and conceived. As well as the emotional trauma involved, Bienfait found herself marginalised by the community, and had no one to care for her while she was pregnant. When Désiré and Claudine heard about Bienfait they decided to care for her and help her holistically, including medical care, food, and comfort. Bienfait’s son now goes to the orphanage school at the Tumaini Day Center in Goma, and is doing well. Bienfait herself is now part of the vocational training project. Désiré writes, “Both the baby boy and the young mother are doing well, and life is okay with no problem… It is our joy to see how this young girl is being empowered from studying at the tailoring school led by Mrs Claudaline. We are praying that we would have a sewing machine for her so she will be able to rely on herself after training, and start earning a living. In so doing, seeds of hope will be sown and God will be glorified”.

Claudaline & Désiré with the students [Desktop Resolution]

Claudaline & Désiré with some of the tailoring project students.

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