Community Update

World Pulse Toolkits Available!

At World Pulse, we recognize the need for ongoing learning—for you and for your community! Our toolkits are all available here.

We are especially excited to share our signature Citizen Journalism and Digital Empowerment Curriculum. Start learning today!

She channels her pain into healing others

Photo Annie

I met Annie Nabintu when I worked for an organization in Goma, a town in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). I was very impressed by her focus on taking care of women and girl survivors of sexual violence. Her courage and determination has given me so much courage.
Annie is a Congolese woman who lives in Goma in North Kivu, a province characterized by repeated wars in eastern DRC. She is 42 years old, married with four children.
In 2000, Annie launched a non-profit organization called Action social pour la promotion des laissés pour compte (ASPLC) to promote poor women and children in eastern DRC. The target of this NGO is to assist women affected by armed conflict that characterize her country. "I created this organization to assist women survivors of armed conflicts and atrocities perpetrated by armed rebel groups in North Kivu"., revealed Annie.
Medium-sized and very strong, Annie is a native of South Kivu near Goma. Different from other women and girls who are friends with their mothers, Annie is a friend to her father. "I spent a lot of time at the school in Bukavu because I went to study, away from my parents. I did not stay long next to my mom”, explains Annie . She is the daughter of a pastor who took care of vulnerable women and children, for many years. Annie thinks she has inherited her father's work. "My father has helped women and children in the church, for many years. I think it was from him that I became all that I am today," she says.
For Annie, women and children are the first to be affected by the war between armed groups present in the east of the DRC and armed forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo ( FARDC) Congolese army. She thinks that customs and traditions – like early marriages , denying the woman to work without prior permission from her husband, lack of an inheritance etc. prevent women from enjoying their rights. Annie opines, "We must not stand by idly and do nothing. We must help women and children live their lives.".
Through her organization, Annie assists women who lost their husbands during the war and conflict in the DRC. She also supports women and girls surviving sexual violence, armed conflict and repeated wars perpetrated by armed men, and rebels in eastern Congo. "We try to do the best to help and support the women psychologically," admits Annie. She is very confident about the impact of her work in the field.
A successful survivor
Despite the African customs and traditions that do not allow many women to have the chance to study, Annie graduated from the Université ouverte in Goma, majoring in Management and Business Administration.
A survivor of repeated sexual harassment by officials of some national and international organizations where she sought employment, Annie was shocked that this form of sexual violence occurs silently in the DRC. This situation also pushed her to create her own organization. Through ASPLC, Annie employed other women like her who faced sexual harassment in the DRC. "When I finished my studies, I needed to work, but the heads of organizations that I approached wanted to hire me to become their friend or their wife. I refused because I thought it was unfair. I do not deserve a job because of my gender but my abilities ", reflects Annie Nabintu. Nevertheless, Annie admits that she made a difficult decision in this time of crisis in the DRC where finding a job was not easy. "I did it for myself and to gain respect as a woman. We are capable and men should not always think that women use only sex in seeking opportunities. ", Annie stated convincingly.
Since the birth of her NGO, Annie has assisted women affected by armed conflict perpetrated by various rebel groups which destabilized eastern DRC. Among these groups are the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), the National Congress for the Defense people (CNDP), headed by Laurent Nkunda and Bosco Ntaganda, Mai Mai, Raiya Mutomboko, Nyantura and recently the rebel Movement March 23 ( M23).
The work carried out by Annie through her organization helps women by training them to make mats, baskets, soap, juice and many other items to enable women to remain independent. At present, ASPLC employs about 100 Congolese women who also work in the service of other women in the affected Congolese community. In particular, they provide psychosocial support for women survivors of sexual violence and women affected by HIV and AIDS. "Since I came here, I was informed of various trades, including cutting and sewing. I feel I am now able to do something to take care of myself and my child", mentions Jeanine. She is one of the survivors of sexual violence from the territory of Masisi about 75 kilometers from Goma. This territory is affected by inter-ethnic conflicts in North Kivu. Jeanine went to the centre in Goma which houses several girl survivors of armed conflict after being raped and made pregnant by armed men. "I sincerely thank ASPLC for the assistance it has provided me. I can stay here. The staff also agreed to take care of my daughter. May God continue to bless them ", Jeannie recalls her sad story with emotion, and tears in her eyes
Extremely satisfied with the work she has done since 2000, Annie still feels shocked by repeated wars and armed conflicts that characterize the DRC particularly in the eastern and Northern Kivu regions. Every day, these wars continue to pour into the streets, affecting thousands of families and people, most of whom are women and children, "It is vital for women around the globe to come together and advocate for restoring peace in the DRC" , Annie concludes.

Downloads

Comments

How important is to change the perspective of men involving gender issues? I´m glad Annie took example from her father. She perfectly understood we should help people to live their own lifes. How powerful!!!
Congratulations!!!

Klaudia González

Greengirl's picture

Dear Passy..............

I feel like shouting these words beyond the roof top just like Annie did- "I do not deserve a job because of my gender but my abilities'. Annies story resonates because it was my handful experiences of sexual harassment that lead me to take the bull by the horns and launch out on my own.

With the likes of Annie around, I am sure that the battle to end 'Violence Against Women' in DRC and the world at large, will be won.

Thank you so much for sharing Annies' inspiring story! Kudos to you!

Greengirl

Aminah's picture

I quite agree with Greengirl.

We need to shout that out loud
"I do not deserve a job because of my gender but my abilities"

Our capabilities have nothing to do with a certain gender. It all relates to experiences, education, and personal attributes.
I have experiences at work where men look-down on women as inferior creatures who are capable of only certain kinds of jobs. And often times we do find that women are seen as less capable because eventually they get pregnant and have children.

And yes, sexual violence is quite wide spread in the work environment and these incidents go unreported as often times the victim gets further victimized. Most people are too afraid to speak out.

Glad Annie Nabintu reaches out to such victims and is a voice to many who are disadvantages.

Salaam
Aminah

Iryna's picture

Support

I think women suffer sexual harassment silently because of two reasons. First, they feel shame. And second, they think this is normal. No, this is not normal and I am glad that such women as Annie don't allow such things happen and help others to overcome the results of such abuse.
Your story is written very light, Passy, and is about an amazing woman! Congrats!
Greetings from Ukraine,
Iryna

pelamutunzi's picture

like father

thank you for the story of annie. when she says that people should know women do not only use sex in seeking opportunities i totally agree and even the women need to be taught this reality. this was a wonderful story with much meaning

we may be powerless to stop an injustice but let there never be a time we fail to protest.
regards
pela

orionisis's picture

It's not in a vacuum...

Thank you for this interesting and important story, Passy. This story made it clear to me that the violence against women occurring in wartime-DRC does not occur in a vacuum. Like virulent bacteria, it thrives in a cesspool of institutionalized sexism, oppressive cultural traditions, and a lack of protective regulations: unchecked sexism at every level. We see it unfold in the life of the interviewee, even though she is relatively privileged in her country, having gotten an education and having a supportive and aware father (it is inspiring to me that she decided to start her own organization rather than endure sexist oppression by potential employers).

The problems of the Congo are always so especially painful to me; I feel overwhelmed thinking about how to protect women from wartime violence, when it seems like it is just an extreme manifestation of what is happening every day there, at every level of life. What is the solution? I guess part of it is making sure the story is told, and I thank you for your part in bringing it to us.

Keep the faith!
Orion

libudsuroy's picture

Like a phoenix rising

Dear Passy,
Thank you for this story of a woman "who became strong at the broken places." She shows us that one way to healing from repeated trauma is to overcome that pain with others who suffered from the same fate. Together, the women move on from war to lives of peace, like phoenixes arising from the ashes. Annie's programs are well-rounded as these responds to different needs of women, from the psychological to the economic.
It also shows the need for women-led organizations to respond to the needs of different women in war-ravaged communities. I can only hope that there is will be more women like her in DRC and in every war-torn country in the world.

Take care and keep writing!

Blessings,
libudsuroy/Lina Sagaral Reyes
Mindanao, The Philippines

''Every Day is a Journey and the Journey itself is Home.'' (Matsuo Basho)

Dear Passy,

What an excellent profile of an incredible woman. You included so many details about her life and described at lengths the solutions Annie employs to help the women affected by the war in the DRC. You also included some of her personal story and background, her relationship with her father and the sexual harassment she experienced. I am left with no questions after reading your piece because I feel you did a splendid job at including it all.
Like Annie, I strongly believe that economic independence is the solution for many women who are victims of violence. I love the feeling of knowing that I have the skills to survive on my own. This is a feeling that Annie is helping spread.
Tres bon travail Passy.
Merci beaucoup d'avoir eclaire ma lanterne.

Delphine Criscenzo

Maura Bogue's picture

Good Job!

Congratulations on completing your first assignment! Your story flows well and is well-written.

Next time, make sure the most important information is at the beginning. That way your readers know the key facts right off the bat.

Overall, great work!

Best,
Maura

Magazine »

Read global coverage through women's eyes

Letters to a Better World

Letters to a Better World

Community »

Connect with women on the ground worldwide

womenspace's picture

CAMBODIA: Ordinary Women Can Make a Difference

Campaigns »

Be heard at influential forums

WWW: Women Weave the Web

WWW: Women Weave the Web

Programs »

Help us train women citizen journalists

World Pulse Voices of Our Future

World Pulse Voices of Our Future

Partners »

Join forces with our wide network of partners

Nobel Women's Initiative

Nobel Women's Initiative