2013 Cause – Congo Women

Small resources can mean big gains – Javajog 2013 Boston funds Congo Women

We’ve all heard the horrific accounts of ongoing fighting in the Congo. In late 2012, the Kivu region was again struck by violence, leaving communities reeling. Women once again bore the brunt of the brutality.

Kivu is a coffee-producing region, and communities have been beginning to rebuild this sector, facing tremendous hardships in the process. International buyers are taking interest in the coffees, and coffee is providing the people with a connection to the outside world and a glimmer of hope for their future.

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Javajoggers Founder’s Run Boston 2013

In April of 2013, fifteen runners came together to run in support of Congo Women.  Through the Founder’s Run of the Javajog for a Cause, these runners braved frigid wind and raised $7326 for the women’s committee at the Sopacdi cooperative in the Kivu region of Congo.

ImageThough a relatively small amount from our standards, the women have already invested the funds to make a difference in the lives of women not only from the coffee cooperative, but more broadly for women impacted by the ongoing violence.   Fifty percent of the funds has been invested to implement specific income generating activities including small portable mills and a boat engine to provide transport services to the community.  Two mills introduced in one of the sectors are currently generating profits.  These profits are recorded with the support of Sopacdi’s accountant and the funds are transferred to a microcredit and savings institution based in Minova.

The other 50% of the funds has been to be donated to local health centers around Minova who regularly attend women affected by sexual violence.

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Motor for mill purchased by the women’s committee

The future work of the women’s committee will include better defining their goals and objectives and building capacity at the board, committee and sector levels to be able to leverage the opportunities that arise.  Laying a foundation for their long-term work is key.

Sopacdi established its women’s committee in 2011 as a space for women to share ideas and discuss challenges they face. The committee is made up of 42 women who have been elected from each of the geographic sectors represented by the cooperative, with the scope of their objectives and work being for all women selling coffee to Sopacdi.  Sopacdi has 1000 members from 8 sectors, and two female board members – proof of the changing culture even in this male dominated society.

Forging these kinds of partnerships brings life to the coffee community.  The Race, held early one cold, windy morning in Boston, brought us together in solidarity with women in Congo whose lives on a daily basis are infinitely more harsh than the bitter winds we faced.   To consider their courage as we braved the blistering winds was a clear wake up call – to understand, to advocate and to do more – together.

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