For over 10 years, COFAPRI has been working in the rural mountain villages of Eastern DR Congo to empower women and children.
Congolese husband and wife team, Mugisho Theophile and Valarie Bahati established COFAPRI to educate women and children about their rights, teach literacy and income-generating skills to women, and to sponsor the education of children.
COFAPRI (Congolese Females Action for Promoting Rights and Development) has over 300 members in 64 villages in the South Kivu province.
The second photo in the slideshow gives an idea of daily conditions for women in the region, without the help of COFAPRI.
the help of COFAPRI, over 300 women are now generating income from
sewing and knitting projects and farming projects. The women sell their
handmade clothes at local markets. The pig farming projects have the
additional benefit of providing much-needed natural fertilizer to the
Rape Survivors and Children Born of Rape
This region continues to experience instability due to
the DRC’s cyclic conflicts which have been ongoing for more than 25 years. This insecurity has resulted in high instances of rape in South Kivu.
In particular, COFAPRI helps rape survivors and children born of rape, who would otherwise be ostracised by society.
Sustainability and Challenges
The women donate a percentage of their income to a community pot, which is then further reinvested in their respective community.
Women who previously received may be 20 dollars a year are now earning around 50 dollars a month. Whereas they used to eat one meal a day, they can now have three meals a day.
Moreover, their children are able to go to school.
The majority of the income is generated in this way. COFAPRI has received no govenment or grant funding.
All this has the knock-on effect of reducing violence against women and child marriage.
August 2013, COFAPRI was invited by the Kelley School of Business at
Indiana University, USA, to work together online to adapt a business handbook to be relevant to grassroots women.
The initial handbook was first developed by the Power of Love Foundation.
COFAPRI members have been using this grassroots handbook to initiate and develop their businesses.
COFAPRI's aim is to be self-sustaining. Meanwhile, COFAPRI is also dependent on the generosity of private donors.
Due to the insecurity in DR Congo, it is a challenge for grassroots NGOs
to receive grants.
COFAPRI operates in regions of DR Congo where the UK Foreign Office website says 'Advise against all travel'. Therefore it is extremely difficult for outside organisations to see first hand COFAPRI's work. Which is of course why there is a huge need for organisations such as COFAPRI.
In addition, online platforms such as Paypal do not operate in DR Congo.
Each region where COFAPRI operates has its own team, overseen by a Coordinator, all of whom live in the community.
Mugisho and Bahati grew up in the region and have gained great respect among the communities, even gaining the trust of local traditional leaders.
“COFAPRI is an amazing organisation that is spreading far in the mountains of our villages where bigger NGOs, local and international, are fearing to reach. COFAPRI remains a model NGO in the area, and the women will never forget the good this organisation is doing for them.
To crown their efforts, I have decided to offer them a trophy for encouragement, recognition and also to mean they are reaching where bigger organisations never reached for fear of fighters.
Congratulations, you made it COFAPRI. You are a way-finder for everyone willing to lift women from poverty and abuse. I would advise these women to remain united as they are today. If they can work together in teams, there can be more achievements in their efforts. A good student always walks in the steps of their master. COFAPRI has shown you the way. We have seen you and we appreciate your efforts.”
Mr. Cishugi, Traditional leader in Nyangezi.
How to Help
This is a truly grassroots organisation.
There is virtually no infrastructure in these regions, so the communities have barely any communication with the outside world and are reliant on Mugisho and Bahati to communicate their needs.
COFAPRI is dependent on the support of the global community.
Donations will help COFAPRI to further expand and reach more women and children, will help fund more education for children, help more women to learn essential income generating skills at the COFAPRI sewing centres etc, help provide more sewing machines, as well as essential items for the communities such as soap and sanitary towels - and a lot more!
If you can't afford to donate, you can help by sharing this fundraiser.
And please share COFAPRI's website and social media!
29th November 2013, COFAPRI was formally registered with the Bukavu
local Ministry of Justice as a local organisation operating throughout
Registration number: JUST. 112/S-KV/ 3922/2013.
On the signed letter of 28th February 2014, COFAPRI was registered with the South Kivu Governor's office.
Registration number: No 01/115/CAB/GOUPRO-SK/2014.
Since April 2016, COFAPRI is also member of South Kivu Civil Society, under registration number BCSC 27/2016
Mugisho and Bahati
Bahati is the Executive Secretary of COFAPRI as well as being a busy and devoted mother to Mugisho and Bahati's three children.
Mugisho is Executive Director of COFAPRI.
He has a degree in Education, majoring in English Language and African Culture, and a Master's in Peace and Conflict Resolution.
He is currently studying for a PhD in Gender Studies.
Chris Crowstaff has been doing her best to help since COFAPRI was first implemented as a project in 2009.
Since that time, Chris has been actively promoting COFAPRI via the social media.
Chris and her husband Andrew created the COFAPRI website several years ago - and continue to maintain and update the website, as volunteers.
In July 2013, Chris Crowstaff spoke about COFAPRI at the United Nations in Geneva, where a video was shown featuring Mugisho, at the time of the ECOSOC Annual Ministerial Review.