Wamama Simameni Houses
Wamama Simameni Houses are visible landmarks on the road to healing. The prevalence of rape and other sexual violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is described as one of the worst in the world. We work with communities in eastern Congo to reverse the conditions that cause rape and its impact 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 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.
Before sending them back to their village, we connect them to a Wamama Simameni (Women Stand Up Together) safe house closest to their village. During their stay, the women continue to receive counseling, participate in group healing with other women, including resources to build 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, 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 other 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.