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Supporting vulnerable girls in Goma
We’re helping 800 vulnerable girls and young women in the so-called
‘rape capital of the world’. Our project is providing counselling,
sanctuary and education for street girls and former girl soldiers.
Eastern D.R. Congo is one of the most dangerous places on earth to be a woman. The area has witnessed a horrific level of rape and sexual violence. A study revealed that an average of 48 women are raped every hour in Congo – and that is likely to seriously underestimate the true figure because many women don’t report these incidents for fear of being stigmatised.
More than one million people have been displaced from their homes in the region. Many flee to the relative safety of big towns like Goma – but without a job or anywhere to live, young women often end up on the streets and are forced into prostitution.
In partnership with local NGO Don Bosco we’re hoping to support 800 girls over three years. We aim to reunify them with their families, or to give them the skills to live independently.
What we're doing
We’re providing intensive counselling and psycho-social care and support to help girls overcome and move on from the traumatic experiences they’ve lived through at such a young age.
A safe, nurturing home
We’re supporting 30 of the most vulnerable young women in a residential home. It houses 30 girls aged 12-18 who simply have nowhere else to go. Most of them are victims of sexual violence or have babies of their own. They are either orphans or have serious family difficulties so they stay here at Maison Marguerite for up to a year whilst we can provide them with the counselling and education that can turn their lives around.
Education and training
We’re providing literacy and numeracy classes that enable girls who have missed out on an education to catch up so they can re-enter school alongside their peers. We’re also helping to provide uniforms and fees so that girls can afford to attend school.
We’re working with local media organisations to help raise awareness about sexual violence and child protection so that everyone in the community knows what the laws are and what they can do to uphold them.
Child Protection networks
We’re setting up child protection committees which will enable people in the local community to identify and help protect vulnerable children.
Working in remote communities
We're also extending our work outside Goma and into a couple of rural areas where the problems remain acute. A new project in Masisi will be using mobile phones as a way of recording and monitoring violence and child protection incidents.
It costs £50 a year to pay for the school fees that can enable a girl to enrol into school and get the education that can help rebuild her life.
“My life is much better since I came here. I have clothes and food. The psychologist has helped me to understand that what happened was not my fault”