In a country where it is more dangerous to be a woman than a soldier, the courage and strength of one woman has enabled thousands of survivors of violence to rebuild their lives.
Continued fighting in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) by government and rebel groups has caused more than 3 million people to flee their homes.
In the chaos of war, displaced women are left vulnerable and are targets of brutal attacks. Some 350 sexual assaults are reported every week in the DRC, leaving thousands of women injured, pregnant and traumatised.
Now, thanks to the support of one incredible woman,
victims of violence are now recovering from their trauma and are rebuilding their lives; for themselves and their families.
Pascaline is a 43-year-old Congolese woman who was forced to flee her home when the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) attacked her village in 2010.
Pascaline is a mother of twelve and desperately wanted to protect her family. However during the attack three of her children were kidnapped. Her 12 year old daughter managed to escape, however for years Pascaline did not know what became of her 14 year old and 16 year old sons.
Pascaline fled to Dungu in north west DRC, struggling to support herself and her remaining children. Without an education or employment opportunities, Pascaline did not know how they were going to survive.
Then she met Sister Angelique Namaika.
Sister Angelique, a Congolese nun, invited Pascaline to join her community of women and children working together to recover from the war.
Sister Angelique had begun a project where women who were victims of violence were given their own plot of land to grow crops for food and for sale.
Sister Angelique ran workshops, which Pascaline attended, on agriculture and small business skills to enable women to earn a steady income and support their children.
Pascaline began harvesting corn and cassava (a staple food similar to potato) and sold it at the local market.
In time, Pascaline also began working in the cooperative-led bakery which Sister Angelique also established. Pascaline is grateful for the support she has received and feels happy to be independent again.
*Name changed for protection reasons.
31,000 PEOPLE HAVE RECEIVED TRAINING AND EDUCATION IN NON-VIOLENCE AND PREVENTION OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE.
85% OF SURVIVORS REPORTING SEXUAL ASSAULT IN ORIENTALE PROVINCE RECEIVED MEDICAL TREATMENT AND PSYCHOLOGICAL SUPPORT.
SISTER ANGELIQUE, WITH AUSTRALIA FOR UNHCR FUNDING, HAS SUPPORTED MORE THAN 2,000 WOMEN THROUGH HER COMMUNITY WORK, COUNSELLING AND EDUCATION.
Sister Angelique Namaika is a Congolese nun who has established projects in her community, such as a cooperative led bakery and agricultural projects, which enable women victims of sexual violence to earn a living.
With funding from Australian donors, Sister Angelique has also established an orphanage, a primary school, a health clinic and literacy and sewing classes for members of the community. There are thousands of women like Pascaline who have been helped by Sister Angelique – their faces are different, but their stories are the same.
Neema, 18, is just beginning to recover from her trauma of being kidnapped by the LRA for four years. After being rescued by the Ugandan army, Neema fell pregnant and had no family to support her.
The hospital where she gave birth contacted Sister Angelique, who took Neema in. "As I am still weak from the birth, I cannot work too much...but I always think about what Sister Angelique is teaching me," says Neema.
Sister Angelique has set up many income-generating initiatives for the community. Agricultural projects enable women to grow and sell crops at the market, feed their families and provide flour for the community bakery.
Education and training courses, such as sewing and tailoring, enables women to start their own small businesses and earn an independent income. With Australia for UNHCR funding, Sister Angelique has supported more than 2,000 women through her community work, counselling and education.
Join us and give refugee women who have suffered the support they need.
You can ensure that people displaced by violence are able to rebuild their lives.