Our project – Build Hope – aims to build a health-clinic in a rural war-torn community of the Democratic Republic of Congo, in partnership with a local hospital and other Congolese actors.
This health clinic forms part of a larger vision to holistically tackle the health challenges faced by women and children in particular there, who remain targets in the ongoing Congolese conflict.
Ongoing conflict and violence has killed millions in this country, displaced many more and has torn at the very fabric of society. Congolese women and children endure some of the most inhumane forms of gender-based violence that the world has ever seen.
Those living in rural areas in particular, bear the brunt of Congo’s social woes. Rural communities are generally unable to access crucial social services, like healthcare, education and justice.
The Mwenga territory in the South Kivu region of Congo, is a known stomping grounds for several rebel groups, and has a violent history of massacre, mass rape and pillaging.
Along the road there, are rebel strongholds, where murders occur frequently and women are raped, or taken into the jungles to be kept as sex-slaves, or “war-brides”. As a result of all these factors and many, many more, women and children in Mwenga die wantonly each and every day.
The effects of conflict, lack of formal education or proper sanitation and extreme poverty, make communities like Mwenga a comfortable breeding ground for death and disease.
These issues are further exacerbated in the absence of trained medical professionals, resources or a primary health-care facility that is readily accessible or affordable.
“The people of Mwenga live in a state of continuous despair. Unable to overcome their post-conflict trauma, they seem to only expect misfortune and are unwilling to fight to reclaim what they have lost. This is a people in desperate need of health-care and the hope that comes with it”.
Congo has been named “the worst place to be a woman”.
The international community has adopted the term ‘conflict-based gender based violence’ as a euphemism to refer to the violent, militant and extremely inhumane rape that affects approximately 36 Congolese women and children EVERY day.
This form of rape can be accompanied by mutilation, dismemberment and extreme forms of torture. Death is usually a welcome reprieve.
Many Congolese activists believe that rape is used as a cheap and effective weapon of mass destruction to systematically destroy communities and break the will of the Congolese people by targeting its most vulnerable and yet most valuable population – women.
Conflict rape is just the tip of the iceberg, however. Now, the militarization of civilians has resulted in escalating rates of rape committed by husbands, community leaders and other civilians, known and unknown by the victims.
1. Most rape survivors do not seek treatment immediately, and live with infections and other conditions that eventually debilitate and can kill them
2. STD’s like HIV/AIDs and other treatable infections spread like wildfire when rape-victims are unable to access care.
3. Serious gynecological conditions like fistulae, prolapse, and untreated vaginal infections can cause unthinkable pain and fertility issues.
To read more about the plight of the Congolese women, read our founder’s blog.
There is a desperate need for women in rural communities to access life-saving medical care without putting themselves at risk of rape and death by traveling to urban clinics.
In February 2013, we will begin our project to address women’s health in the Kilungutwe village in the Mwenga territory, under the umbrella of projects operated by the prolific Panzi Hospital.
Together with Panzi’s team of highly qualified social workers, gynecologists and leading gender-based violence experts, we will work within the Congolese public health system to build a clinic that will provide much-needed general medical services and care to mothers and rape-survivors in this traumatized community.
The first phase of this vision is our return mission in February 2013. We need YOUR help to get this Startd.
This return mission consists of the following elements:
1. Providing traditional birth attendants with basic training on maintaining a sterile birthing environment. We will resource these important players in Congo’s health infrastructure with fellow Medstartr Maternova’s Clean Birth Kits.
2 We will also be hiring one community health-worker who will act as our local point person in the village and stand in the interim while the clinic is developed.
3. Begin forming very important relationships with our future care-seekers – women. We will return with 300 of our home-grown Building Moms kits and conduct seminars with these women on reproductive health and basic health-care issues that they SHOULD know.
4. Conduct a comprehensive needs assessment and survey into maternal and child health in this region. This assessment will help us create a strong evaluation tool to determine our impact and come to a deeper understanding of the complex medical and health realities in Mwenga.
5. Align ourselves within the Congolese health system. We need to meet with certain key provincial health authorities in Congo and local partners to get the clinic underway.
We will be working with Panzi Hospital and its founder and Chief of Medicine: Dr. Denis Mukwege to make Build Hope a reality.
Dr. Denis Mukwege is a highly skilled gynecologist, the recipient of several international awards, and a three time nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize. He founded Panzi Hospital with the assistance of UNICEF as a response to the health-challenges facing Congolese women.
Today, the Panzi Hospital is an internationally renowned health-care facility that has revolutionized gynecological care for rape-survivors and other women in Eastern Congo. It is one of the few health-facilities in the entire country with the capacity to perform fistula-repair surgery, and is responsible for several large-scale women’s rights and public health campaigns in the region.
Our home-grown packages kits are comprised of simple items that mothers in Mwenga NEED — they are the CRUX of this return mission. Each one is a response to a need expressed by these women.
Here’s what’s in the BUILDING MOMS KITS:
We do not want to only train midwives on how to make the birthing process safer for women. We want to resource and empower them to ACTUALLY MAKE the birthing process safer. Theory means nothing without practice.
The CLEAN BIRTH KIT targets the “six cleans” recognized by WHO: clean hands, clean perineum, clean delivery surface, clean cord cutting and tying instruments and clean cutting surface. The kit itself contains the following items:
These kits will accompany our training seminars on how to change birth from one of the most dangerous experiences a Congolese woman can survive to one of joy and promise.
All the funds we raise will go toward fully funding this first phase of our project (details above) to build this rural health clinic in Mwenga – an undeniable need that we CAN address.
Here’s a general breakdown of the costs we’re looking at:
We are all in favor of partnering and collaborating to come up with the best possible solutions for the people most in need of it. We’re looking for 2 things in our partners: expertise and funding! If you have any ideas of want to collaborate, get in touch with us at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Partners will receive a number of benefits and opportunities. Check out our special PARTNER REWARDS on the right!
We want our partners to feel intimately connected with the plight of the Congolese woman and the help we are offering her. As one of our partners, you will receive access to data, video and email updates, AND the opportunity to speak directly with Dominique, our founder who will be on the ground in Mwenga. When she returns to the States, she would also be happy to meet with you face-to-face! Additionally, we want to show you loads and loads of public displays of gratitude. As an official partner, you will be recognized on the footers of our official documents, our annual report and publicly on our website. Check our special PARTNER REWARDS on the right!
Channel Initiative is a newly formed nonprofit organization, pending registration in the state of Virginia. Channel’s mission is to respond to desperate needs in un-served communities around the world. Channel’s pilot project, is called Build Hope.
For the Mission: A Clean Birth Kit from Maternova that we can use when training midwives... For You: A tweet and a Facebook update, thanking you personally for your support!
For the Mission: Two Boxes of Cycle Beads. These beads provide birth-spacing -- a crucial factor in improving the likelihood that a woman and her baby survive childbirth!... For You: A hand-written thank you card and a blog-post thanking you for your gift!
For the Mission: One entire Building Moms Kit!... For You: A photo print of a Congolese woman, thank-you card AND a shout-out on our Blog!
For the Mission: Costs of one seminar with 20 women!... For You: A custom-designed T-Shirt, thank-you card AND a shout-out on our Blog, Facebook and Twitter!
For the Mission: Building Moms Kits for 3 women and/or the cost of getting enough materials for 25 women over to Congo!... For You: ALL of the above, and a profile written about you or your organization on our site!
For the Mission: One month’s wages for a part-time community health-worker!... For You: All of the above, and the opportunity to write a guest blog post about why you are so passionate about getting health-care to Mwenga!
For the Mission: A Congolese entry VISA for a team-member! ... For You: A photo album of photos taken in Mwenga and an opportunity to write a guest blog-post on why YOU are so passionate about helping Congolese women!
For the Mission: Transportation for the team and materials into Mwenga! ... For You: A video presentation on our findings during our needs assessment and several shout-outs on Facebook, Twitter and our blog!
For the Mission: So much stuff! Baggage fees, transportation, and even the costs of our seminars with women!... For You: A video presentation on our findings in Mwenga and a brief report on the health-crisis in this area of Congo that you can use in your own work! PLUS, a video shout out on our channel and yours about your contribution and how it helped!
PARTNERS: You will receive access to the data we will collect in Mwenga along with a thank-you card, a video update and recognition in our annual report!
PARTNERS: All of the above, along with being featured prominently on our website! Send us your logo, photograph, or links and we'll write a blurb about you and the work you're doing!
PARTNERS: The Above (Data, Thank-you’s, a video update, a shout-out on our website AND BLOG), PLUS... a conference call or in-person meeting with Dominique upon her return to the States. This can be used for press and media purposes.
PARTNERS: If you choose to partner with us at this level, you have played a crucial role in funding this entire first phase of our project. We would LOVE you to contact us at email@example.com with your own suggestions and thoughts on how you would like to collaborate with us or any improvements you think could be made in our project. You will also receive ALL of the above, the opportunity to write a guest blog-post, an in person meeting AND A PRESENTATION by Dominique, when she returns to the States. This presentation can be a great experience for your company, hospital, school, college, or organization. In addition to these, you may qualify for one of the available positions on the BOARD OF DIRECTORS or ADVISORY COUNCIL of Channel Initiative – the newly formed parent organization of the Build Hope project.
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