Out of the city of Butembo in North Kivu, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, COPERMA (an organization of farmer-businessmen organized for the betterment of society), has established several support centers to help young victims of the on-going war. Most of the victims are young girls who have suffered the horror of rape; many, as young as twelve, and have had a baby as a result. They are frequently rejected by their families and society, or are orphaned as a result of the violence, and are left to fend for themselves. The children are refused access to basic education and are exposed to further exploitation by society and poverty.
The program is directed by Maman Marie Nzoli, and is a recognized Non-Governmental Organization, by the Congolese government. There are ten camps with a total of more than 1,000 girls, as well as other victims of the war, such as demobilized child-soldiers, who are being reintegrated into society.
The primary objective of the program is to support these children in their courageous efforts to reclaim their own lives and find a semblance of security and stability, in a continuously violent atmosphere. This means working to give the girls a family and a system of social support (all children are placed in a foster home, that receives support in the form of seeds and land for cultivation), educating the rural communities about the rights of women and the effects of violence, supporting the children through vocational training in sewing, soap-making, and brick-making, and helping them finish their primary and secondary schooling. Eventually, of course, COPERMA hopes for effective reinsertion into the society, for all of the children, with a consequent means of support. Through the teaching programs, COPERMA also hopes to fight discrimination against the girls and simultaneously create favorable conditions for their employment, and thus ability to live. As a result of the continuing conflict in this region, the number of children being supported by COPERMA grows daily.
The present needs are great. Funds are used to assist teachers at the primary and secondary schools (all basic education services are provided to the children for free), buy materials for sewing and soap-making lessons, provide notebooks and pens during the school year, and construct buildings in which to hold classes. COPERMA also works to give the children a meal at noon, which is not always possible. COPERMA has received some small donations but does not have consistent funding, and is in great need.
To help the efforts of this program, click on the DONATE ONLINE link at the bottom of this page. Choose COPERMA CENTERS CONGO from the "direct your donation" drop-down menu.
Mail donations through check or money order to:
Brother Albert Becker, osc
Crosier Fathers and Brothers,
Onamia, MN, 56359-0500.
Please indicate that your donation is for Marie Nzoli/COPERMA.
ALL DONATIONS WILL BE SENT DIRECTLY TO MARIE NZOLI AND COPERMA in CONGO, and will be greatly appreciated and well utilized.