Church Helps Train Marginalized Women and Youth in the Congo

Helene Bataku (in orange dress), a member of Mwambangu United Methodist Church in Fizi, has learned to read and write at a new vocational center led by The United Methodist Church in Fizi, Congo. She said the center offers women new opportunities and a chance to catch up to their peers. Photo by Philippe Kituka Lolonga, UM News.

The United Methodist Church in East Congo has collaborated with the Congolese government to open a vocational training center for women and youth in Fizi District.

Bishop Gabriel Yemba Unda said he sought out the partnership to help the faithful in his episcopal area provide a better life for themselves — many of whom are women who cannot read or write or are victims of sexual violence.

More than 100 women and 50 youth currently are receiving weekly training at the center.

The church conducts the professional training with volunteers and donated materials. The money to construct Maendeleo Center came from the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The Rev. Kabaiza Hatari, Fizi District superintendent, said most of the women are widows, rape survivors or others who were unable to get an education.

“The types of training that we currently offer are literacy, cutting and sewing, pastry (making) and a soap factory.”

He said other professional training will be added gradually as they find partners to provide the needed equipment.

“This center has just relieved not only the women who start some training and apprenticeship but also the whole population of Fizi,” Hatari said.

The Rev. Kabaiza Hatari, Fizi District superintendent, and his wife, Bukuru Hatari, encourage women who are taking classes at a new United Methodist-run vocational training center in Fizi, Congo. More than 100 women and 50 youth currently are receiving weekly training at the center. Photo by Philippe Kituka Lolonga, UM News.
The Rev. Kabaiza Hatari, Fizi District superintendent, and his wife, Bukuru Hatari, encourage women who are taking classes at a new United Methodist-run vocational training center in Fizi, Congo. More than 100 women and 50 youth currently are receiving weekly training at the center. Photo by Philippe Kituka Lolonga, UM News.

Mathieu Bahindula, who leads classes on entrepreneurship at the vocational training center, said students are guided in different trades, starting with a pretest at registration to determine their level of study and proficiencies. After that, students are invited for an oral interview to help determine their choice of training, he said.

Lea Abwe, who is in charge of the center, said the courses were chosen based on the materials they had on hand or that had been donated.

“This (training) will help women find their place in society and (take care of themselves), which is a necessity of the moment,” she said.

Helene Bataku, a member of Mwambangu United Methodist Church in Fizi, said the center offers women new opportunities and a chance to catch up to their peers.

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Source: United Methodist News