HEAL Africa Programs
HEAL Africa has been able to pioneer initiatives that are comprehensive and interconnected, bringing development aid and changing attitudes through the central organization in Goma, and through a network of partnerships that link faith groups, government hospitals and clinics, schools both public and private, and local organizations in far-flung villages. These initiatives address specific issues: HIV, high mortality of women in childbirth, gender-based violence, or lack of access to justice. Their impact leads to critical awareness and analysis of behavior, and sometimes, causes change. Students become champions of gender and justice issues and HIV prevention, and become peer educators who teach others. HEAL Africa is preparing for peace by building healthy individuals and communities.
Community Partnerships: HEAL Africa focuses on innovative ways to engage communities in addressing health and poverty needs. Central to HEAL Africa's approach to health is synergy. Anchored to the core training and tertiary reference hospital in the city of Goma, HEAL Africa's programs work in over 140 communities in North Kivu and Maniema provinces and partner with over 90 rural health clinics. The hospital's highly trained staff, with a strong emphasis on continuing education, works closely with community leaders and activists to inform, analyze and act. HEAL Africa believes that the strength of the people is stronger than the barriers created by poverty, conflict and disease.
Health: Thirty-one women's resource centers are spread throughout North Kivu and Maniema, the central nervous system of community options for change. Staff and community leaders develop targeted, relevant programs that address the unique needs of individual communities. All too often by the time someone makes their way to a hospital, it is too late or their problems are much more severe than if treated earlier. Local nurses and doctors learn new skills from HEAL Africa staff who visit regularly and often bring equipment and medicine. By training, equipping and linking local nurses, traditional birth attendants and doctors, trusted information is spread through village committees and activists. Success is being passed from community to community, project to project as learning is shared.
Capacity Building: The synergy continues internationally as HEAL Africa partners with Universities, Hospitals, Faith Groups, Corporations and other Non-profits from Europe, North America and Australia to integrate the resources of our alliances with the innovative and culturally relevant solutions of Congolese program and medical staff and community leaders. Every day HEAL Africa teams are working in cities, in villages, teaching, encouraging, connecting to build a new future for Congo. One life, one village at a time.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
Recent Success: HEAL Africa’s hospital and community development work address the root causes of illness and poverty for the people of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The hospital and the 31 women’s houses in Maniema and North Kivu have provided a safe place for many victims of the war, and have been a motor for combating poverty and promoting community cohesion over the past 14 years. All of our programs work to elevate the status of women in eastern Congo. The work of HEAL Africa’s Gender and Justice program has had tremendous success in working with communities in doing exactly that. Last year, Gender and Justice program leader Mama Muliri began working with a community called Lubutu. When she and her team first began working in the community, they were met with hostility, machetes and guns. Change does not come easy. But Muliri stood her ground, bringing new information about the country’s new constitution, human rights, women’s rights and the law. After a year of working in the surrounding communities, she was invited by all of the local tribal chiefs to head a symposium where they would meet to amend tribal laws to be more in line with women’s rights, human rights and the law. They began doing just that when in November 2010, the tribal chiefs from that area assembled all together for the first time ever to make those needed changes.
How it works: The first premise of Gender and Justice is that the law must express the collective will of the community, and be reinforced by the judicial system to punish lawbreakers. The second premise is that the rights given to women in the 2006 Law on Sexual Violence and the 2005 Constitution must be actively appropriated by women within a community that supports their empowerment. It does this in four ways:
First, HEAL Africa partners with the American Bar Association to reinforce the judicial system at the provincial, territorial, and community levels so that victims of sexual violence obtain justice, and a clear message is given to the community that sexual violence in any form will not be tolerated.
Second, HEAL Africa works with religious and community leaders for community mobilization. We believe that all human beings have the strength and capacity to transform their society. HEAL Africa equips religious and community leaders, through gender and justice training to be advocates for change by promoting gender equity.
Third, a new approach was designed by HEAL Africa that will specifically address masculinity issues. Men are the target group. Through this strategy HEAL Africa creates the opportunities for dialogue and reflection which may transform the dominant and oppressive masculinity into a collaborative masculinity. In Congo the experience of daily life has demonstrated that the way cultures, religions, and schools socialize boys to become men inherently lends itself to oppressive attitudes towards women.
Fourth, HEAL Africa works closely with primary and secondary schools in the North Kivu and Maniema provinces to conduct gender and justice activities. It is well known that the formal education delivered at school plays a major role in the process of growth of children. HEAL Africa trains teachers and creates youth clubs at schools that allow young boys and girls to discuss gender-related issues.
The Need: The Gender and Justice program continues to carry out its mission and is constantly being asked to expand to new areas, communities and schools. Funding to expand is critical to providing a path to change for the broad section of society. Join us as we partner with communities to build a new future for Congo, one life, one village at a time.