To celebrate International Women’s Day this year, we share Noella’s story. She went from living in fear to leading a community bakery and training others. With support from our partners in DR Congo, Noella has turned her life around.
For more than a decade, the region of North Kivu in DR Congo has experienced several armed and inter-ethnic conflicts. This has made it hard for young people to thrive, and seen many of them join armed groups. Last year, a local organisation in North Kivu, Concorde, was given a grant from our partners, NPCYP. They are part of our Youth Action for Peace project, set up to support youth focused peacebuilding work. Concorde used the $1,000 to strengthen peacebuilding initiatives led by young people. They wanted to make sure that communities could keep their own peacebuilding work going, even after this initiative had finished.
Noella is a young woman who participated in a project run by Concorde. Here is her story.
In 2016, Noella was working to grow crops. The fields where she worked were far from her town, and she struggled to get there because of the insecurity and violence in the region. She was forced to live in poverty, putting her family at risk, especially her husband, who was trying to provide for the family.
It was during this time of uncertainty and financial hardship that she found Concorde. She joined an empowerment activity for at-risk youth, and received training in baking and culinary arts.
“After receiving theoretical and practical training [in baking], and also on peacebuilding, we formed a group of 18 people and were provided with a baking oven, all the baking materials and start-up products for our community bakery.”
Today, through the community bakery, Noella earns an average of $20 a month in profits, and can provide for her family.
“The money I earn from the bakery has enabled me to set up my own business selling corn flour and cassava flour, which allows me to provide for my children’s school fees and to help manage the family by helping my husband with expenses.”
Not only has she developed her own skills, but Noella has also gone on to train eight other young people in pastry making too. She is supporting them to become resilient and self -sufficient. Unemployment is widespread in her region, but by supporting other young people with skills to earn a living, Noella is creating other options to joining gangs or armed groups.
Women and girls like Noella are effective and powerful leaders and change-makers for peace.
This Women’s Day, we celebrate them.
Women around the world are saving and changing lives.
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