Educating the American Public about the
Real Causes of Congo's Crisis
Ibutwa's goal is to help the women of South Kivu who have been victims of violence - both rape and the subsequent consequences of rape - including reproductive health problems, HIV/AIDS, children born of rape, and dispossession by husbands and communities. We strive to educate Vermonters and other Americans about the ongoing conflict in the Eastern DR Congo, and to give them opportunities to participate in helping affected Congolese women.
More than 5.4 million people have died since the outbreak of war in the DR Congo in 1996. South Kivu province is an area rich in natural resources critical to the global electronics industry. Conflict continues there now and includes the brutal rape of women and children, a horrific tool of war. We raise awareness about these atrocities against women and children, and are working with women and children in the region to help heal their physical and psychological wounds, and build opportunities for a better life.
Ibutwa has the responsibility to educate others in the U.S. about the impact of war, sexual violence and social disorder on the people of DR Congo. Ibutwa's efforts include presentations given in community settings in the U.S., including schools, universities, places of worship, and other community centers.
Videos & Media
About The Vermont Ibutwa Initiative
Ibutwa Mission in South Kivu, Summer 2015
About the Crisis in the Congo
Media & Press
Seven Days covers the mission of Ibutwa. Click the link to read the full article.
WCAX covers Ibutwa's recent trip to the DR Congo. Click the link to watch the video.
"Fix it with Five" is a contest at St. Michael's College that allows local organizations to pitch ideas for a chance to win $10,000 to help others. Click the link to watch an interview with Cleophace.
One man who fled the war and settled in Vermont eight years ago hopes to help. He founded the Vermont Ibutwa Initiative to help Congolese women with the physical and psychological pain after rape. Ibutwa means Renaissance. Cleophace Mukeba is the founder of the group. He and his daughter, Bernadette, 10, appeared on The :30 to tell us about the group's efforts. Click the link above to watch the entire interview.
Newsletters and Field Reports
Join the Movement
Starting movements to enact a conflict-free mineral policy at your educational institution is essential to shedding light on the sexual and gender-based violence occurring in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. By campaigning to divert universities and other institutions from purchasing conflict minerals mined in the Congo, you can contribute to the rebirth of women and children affected by rape.
#Renaissance #Rebirth #Ibutwa #ConflictFree
Ibutwa Upcoming Events
Liz Moore Dance Event
Sunday, October 20, 2019 at 4:00 pm
Location: First Congregational Church
Liz Moore, a dance teacher, started a group of women of all ages, dedicated to doing good through dance and dance events. The event is to sponsor the Ibutwa effort and entry is by donation. Consider bringing along a friend!
Ibutwa Past Events
Mercy Associate and Sister Gathering
Sunday, January 20, 2019 at 2:00 pm
Location: Mater Christi School Library
(Please use the back door entrance at the school and go up one floor.)
Consider bringing along a friend!
Guest Speaker: Cleophace Mukeba, Founder and Executive Director of Vermont Ibutwa Initiative.
Vermont Ibutwa Initiative was founded with a mission to rebuild the lives of women and girls who are survivors of brutal sexual assault in the DR Congo, specifically the South Kivu Province. This area has been impacted by years of civil war. Ibutwa was founded with the primary goal of providing medical treatment and support women and girls who are suffering the physical effects of violent sexual assault, and also works to provide access to education for their children.
Founder Cleophace Mukeba will show a 15 minute documentary on Dr. Mukwege's work in South Kivu/DR Congo that will help explain their mission in the Congo, and he will also explain the Vermont Ibutwa's Programs.
A basket for free-will offerings will be available, to be donated to further the good works of the Ibutwa Iniative.
Note that Mercy Associates Laurie Gagne and Susan Ryan are both on the Board of the Vermont Ibutwa Initiative. You can find more information at www.ibutwa.org.
Provide Education For Others
Leaders of educational institutions and consumers alike must first know the reasons for the crisis to understand the impact of divesting in conflict minerals. Conflict minerals are named for the fact that they are mined by under-privileged people living in the Congo that are subjected to violence and exploitation.
Specifically, conflict minerals are gold, copper, uranium, timber, iron, tin, tungsten, and coltan. They are resources widely used across multiple industries in developed nations like the United States. Electronics likes smartphones, laptops, and tablets contain these minerals. As these minerals are in high-demand, rebel forces against the Congolese government have taken over mining towns. Mining is the main source of income for many families in the DR Congo - rebels exploit men, women, and children of mining towns.
To enact policies on college campuses that ensure institutions only purchase technology made with conflict free minerals, educating and engaging with consumers is key.
Know the Implications of the Crisis
Rebels terrorize women in the mining towns through acts of sexual, emotional, and physical abuse. Families are destroyed after these acts; often, women are stigmatized and abandoned by her husband after rape. Women contract HIV/AIDS, among other health and psychological issues. The crisis surrounding conflict minerals devastates communities in the DR Congo. Learn about the women of Ibutwa by clicking below.
Stay Up to Date on the Policy
Proposals by the Trump Administration have been made to suspend Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Act, which requires companies to be transparent about their use of conflict minerals sourced from the Congo. The roll-back of this law will see further violence by rebel forces in mining towns. This makes enacting conflict free policies on college campuses even more paramount.