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Thriving not just surviving

By Mark Lang | 01 Dec 2015

Fatuma and Andre don’t know each other but they have several things in common.

Fatuma and Andre don’t know each other but they have several things in common.

  1. They live in Katanga province in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
  2. They’ve both suffered as a result of conflict
  3. In differing ways they’re vulnerable and have children to look after
  4. Both are being supported to live independent lives by Tearfund

‘Extremely helpful’ is how Fatuma describes the help she’s received. Her husband died in 2014 after being forced to do hard labour by a militia group. The 58-year-old suffered from TB and deprived of access to medication, succumbed to the strain of having to carry 65kg loads as a porter.

Fatuma was left with a small plot of land and some orange trees to support her mum and three children.

With funding from the European Commission’s Humanitarian aid and Civil Protection Department, Tearfund is helping Fatuma develop a livelihood which will enable the family not just to survive, but thrive.


This is a real revolution for me
Fatuma

The year-long project aims to help 21,000 Congolese affected by conflict, including people who’ve fled their homes, those in communities hosting the homeless and those returning to devastated communities after fighting has stopped.

By next March, it’s hoped that 15,000 people will benefit from training to improve crop production and Fatuma is among those who’ve already been helped.

‘Although I thought I knew a lot about agriculture, these sessions were extremely helpful,’ said Fatuma, 50. ‘I learned new techniques; particularly how to protect my crops from diseases and insects.’

Fatuma can now cultivate her land all year round using her newly learned techniques, whereas before the training she was only able to plant her seeds during the February and October planting seasons.

‘This is a real revolution for me. I produce enough to feed my family and I can even sell the surplus.’

Andre too now has a brighter future thanks to Tearfund’s work. As a child, he developed an illness which has resulted in the gradual paralysis of his legs, leaving him reliant on crutches.

I just have to trust God with my future
Andre

The father-of-two lives in a community which has seen an influx of people seeking sanctuary after being made homeless by armed groups, which abound in this part of DRC. This has made work harder to come by for many, Andre included.

Identifying his vulnerability, Tearfund enrolled the 21-year-old on a livestock breeding scheme designed to improve his income.

He was given two pigs, along with training on how to care for them: ‘We plan on focusing on breeding and selling the offspring for now so that we can build up our income,’ Andre explains, ‘The female is already pregnant!’

With the money from the pigs, Andre will be able to afford to pay for transport, medical costs, household supplies, and school fees when his children are old enough.

Though needs continue to be great in his community, the promise of a sustainable income gives Andre hope: ‘I just have to trust God with my future,’ he says with a smile.

So far 200 vulnerable people have received livestock to improve their standard of living in Katanga and South Kivu provinces through Tearfund’s project, while 625 farmers and their families have been trained how to improve the nutrition in their diets, and given seeds for vegetable crops.

In addition, 20 fishing groups have received fishing equipment, five grain mills have been installed and six villages have benefited from tree planting for agro-forestry.

Written by

Written by Mark Lang