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Wamama Simameni Houses

Wamama Simameni Houses are visible landmarks on the road to healing. The prevalence of rape and other sexual violence in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is described as the worst in the world. HEAL Africa works with communities in eastern Congo to reverse the conditions that cause rape and the affects of rape on communities. Trained counselors seek out survivors of rape and other violence and refer them to the appropriate medical and counseling programs. After treatment at the main HEAL Africa hospital or at a partner clinic, women are given a Fresh Start Kit that includes what they need to start a small business.

On their way home, they connect with the Wamama Simameni (Women Stand Up Together) safe house closest to their village. While staying at the safe house the women receive support for building a new future for themselves and their family.

The Wamama Simameni safe houses provide a refuge and help for those in the midst of crisis, and provide long-term support and resources to build new communities in the aftermath of the war. The safe houses are managed by the women they serve, supported by the staff of HEAL Africa. The safe houses function as the center of a radiating network of initiatives that provide the framework for community. These initiatives build capacity among women through a variety of programs, such as: education; access to income-generating grants and micro-loans; skill classes for sewing, bread-making, soap-making; and by connecting women to vocational and agricultural opportunities.

Congo's women have been portrayed as victims in an endless war. HEAL Africa is working to build and support communities of women in Congo with the social, physical, spiritual, and economic resources necessary to create a new social fabric in war-torn communities. These women are creating a new future for the Congo. In a fragmented postwar society, with many women living on their own, the traditional roles and structures have changed. Women are assuming new responsibilities and taking on new roles. HEAL Africa brings women together in solidarity, to address the same issues: widowhood, rape, and challenges of supporting their children alone. As the women meet, talk, and learn, they discover the strength they have in working together. Empowered women benefit the whole community.