Our program of medical and psychosocial support of victims of sexual violence is a strategy adopted by The Vermont Ibutwa Initiative to respond to direct consequences of abuses perpetrated in the cities of Uvira and Kamanyola. This program assists victims by focusing heavily on services responding to direct misdeeds related to sexual violence with the goal of psychological and social rehabilitation of victims of sexual violence.
Ibutwa provides educational opportunities for children born from rape. This involves covering all necessary school fees, uniforms, and supplies. We are happy to report that 76 children in Kamanyola and Uvira are currently attending school thanks to generous donations. This is a crucial part of our budget - $8,531 a year to support all children ranging in age from kindergarten to high school.
Our sustainable livelihoods program provides the necessary tools and training for women to become financially independent.In Uvira, we have begun collaboration with Pelagie Missasa, a consultant who is a graduate of the school of Management in Lubumbashi. Pelagie has a great deal of experience with international organizations training women in creating sustainable livelihood projects.
Sustainable Livelihoods Program:
Knowledge, Talent, & Financial Prosperity
From its earliest days, Ibutwa has sought to meet the needs of our participants based on the priorities they have identified. As survivors of traumatic sexual violence - many of whom have also experienced additional social, economic and emotional traumas from their experience - they have pointed us to urgent needs in three areas: medical treatment; provision of school fees for their children; and support for the development of their own small businesses and economic activities. It is the third of these priorities that has formed our current Sustainable Livelihood Program.
The success of Sustainable Livelihoods Program aids in the future expansion of Ibutwa's client base; Ibutwa's original participants are now financially independent. We strive to discover activities for the sustainable livelihoods of our participants that best fit their circumstances and personal interests. From pig raising to tailoring programs, Ibutwa has experimented with livelihood programs we hope to replicate and expand.
Our bakery project was inspired and cultivated by Ibutwa participant Ms. Wabiwa Wakusomba. As a small business entrepreneur, Wabiwa is responsible for buying wheat, flour, sugar, and charcoal to power her bakery that generates her own income and feeds locals. Ms. Wabiwa has successfully converted the start-up funding and microfinance business training provided by Ibutwa into a thriving business.
Together, Wabiwa and Ibutwa have demonstrated resilience in the face of difficult circumstances. When floods washed away Wabiwa’s original bakery in late 2016, Ibutwa provided emergency funding for her to rebuild. Given Wabiwa’s excellent success, Ibutwa is now seeking donations to provide funding for expansion so that Wabiwa can share her success through employment opportunities to other Ibutwa participants.
A second project, which has been both a financial and community success, is our community garden. Ibutwa purchased two acres of land in Kamonyola in 2015 to be farmed by four participants. The participants used the produce they raised to feed their families.
Although the same rains that devastated Wabiwa’s bakery damaged crops last year, a succesful crop is anticipated for this coming seasons. Participants have requested an expansion of crops, with a specific request to buy an additional five acres of land adjacent to the two acres already under cultivation. More land would allow for new program participants and an increase in the income generating capacity of current participant.
Vermont Ibutwa's new sewing project in the South Kivu province of the Congo has been a big success for the women involved. Ibutwa provided sewing machines and technical training in how to use the machines and how to sew clothing. Our sewing instructor measures the success of women involved in the program by monitoring their progress and teaching a number of sewing skills as well as different clothing items to sew. The women are engaged with this project and excited about pursuing it further, working towards a cycle of self-sustainability.
Thanks to support from our donors, Ibutwa is currently sponsoring 76 children in two villages, Uvira and Kamanyola. These children are attending classes ranging from kindergarten to high school. Ibutwa covers school fees (public education is not free in the DRC), examination fees, and seeks to annually provide mandatory uniforms, shoes and notebooks.
As PMC member Laurence Clerfeuille noted in a recent newsletter, “Field coordinators in the Congo send us detailed reports on the childrens' progress twice a year. There is still more to do, however, in addition to continuing payment every year. Creating a small library would be instrumental in helping children continue their learning experience.”
Education is also a key tool in combating the stigma and social isolation that many of our clients and their families have experienced as aftermaths to sexual assault. Through Ibutwa’s support, the dependents of our clients are able, not only to access the tools and skills that will allow them to become self-sufficient, they are also able to renew their participation in a vital community institution.
The Impact of Ibutwa's Education Program
From supporting the mothers' health to purchasing and distributing uniforms and paying their school fees, Ibutwa continually supports the progress and success of the children we support. Our dream for the education program is to someday be able to open a library. Please donate to support Ibutwa's future!
The most prevalent health challenge among our participants is chronic abdominal pain during daily movement. One of our participants had surgical intervention to remove her fallopian tubes in an attempt to ease the pain in her stomach from rape.
Medical Treatment for Women
Ibutwa's healthcare program has been restarted with new operations. Our new program will focus on providing medical treatment for specific women in addition to partnering with a local hospital.
When Ibutwa was founded, the first and most urgent priority was in providing medical treatment to our clients to address the immediate physical effects of the trauma caused by sexual violence. All of the women who were referred to our program were seen by medical professionals to diagnose the extent of their injuries (some of which had occurred months or even years previously) and offer them treatment and psychosocial support.
Support Ibutwa's Health Mission
Ibutwa just handed out 171 mosquito nets to the women we support and their families. Help us in our continuing holistic approach to health care by pledging a recurring donation.
There is no playbook for healing communities afflicted by sexual violence, so Ibutwa experimented with two models of health care delivery. The first approach was a case management system; an Ibutwa staff member worked with clients to bring them to health care specialists and pay for treatment. This model proved ineffective as it was extremely costly and our clients found the travel and time-sensitive nature of the program difficult to manage.
Today, women who seek the support of Ibutwa for medical diagnosis and/or treatment of a serious complaint make a request for medical services through an application to our field staff. Our staff meets on a regular basis to review the applications and send recommendations to the PMC in Vermont for final approval. This process allows for the preservation of health care for our clients as we work toward a more permanent and sustainable health care delivery system.