My name is Marie. My family is from Faradje in northern Congo. The village schools were very poor and the elders believed that only boys should study. My father disagreed and raised us in the town of Aru. Today, my husband and I continue to value education for our three young children. When we founded our cooperative, Katie shared a proverb with us: I am what I am because of who we all are. Our friendship and the cooperative has shown me all the possibilities in life that I never knew existed.
My name is Opisia. My family is from Etopi, DRC. I missed several years of schooling to care for my nieces and nephews after my oldest brother died. When I attended our first cooperative meeting in 2014, I was eager to learn. One year later, I purchased my first sewing machine and have learned the importance of working in community. The Lord continues to bless our work and in His Name I ask Him to bless you in your lives always.
My name is Buve. My family is from Kerekere, DRC. My father has two wives and sixteen children. Since I am one of the oldest, it is my responsibility to help care for my younger brothers and sisters. I am so proud of my work with the cooperative. I have built my own home with the money that I have earned. I have also become a leader in my community because the opportunities provided by Totonga Bomoi.
My name is Enaru. My family is from Mansala, DRC. Our village is poorly organized and the villagers are not well-oriented in farming. Men do not care properly for their land and families suffer from hunger. I was married in 2014 and had my first son, Benjamin. We now live in Ariwara, a growing town in the Ituri District. We were able to build a home from the money that I earned through our cooperative.
My name is Esther. My family is from Olebo, DRC. My parents had three sons before I was born and because I am their first daughter, they love me very much. My mom and dad are teachers in a nearby village. The cooperative has blessed my life in many ways. This is my first time using the computer and registering for Facebook. I have also learned how to google search for new fashion ideas. I love sewing and look forward to learning!
My name is Kandaru. My family is from Rodo, DRC. My mother died when I was nine years old. My father remarried and works in commerce, trading throughout villages in the Ituri District. These are one of the only options for surviving in Congo. I am thankful to be part of the cooperative and plan to use my earnings to build a better future for myself and my family.
My name is Edrako. My family is from Abiko-Rinyi, DRC. Our primary mode of survival is cultivation. The village grows peanuts, corn, rice, soybeans, and cassava. The parents in my village work very hard to send their children to study in other towns because of Abiko-Rinyi's poor education system. It's a hard life to stay in our village because there is no work. In 2015, during our Entrepreneur Training in Aru, I learned how important it is to share ideas with each other and talk about our hopes for the future. I'm very thankful to be part of Totonga Bomoi.
My name is Jeannine. My husband and I have two children, plus we care for five children whose father died and mother left. My husband teaches in Aru and is very proud of our cooperative: "I'm so happy for my wife. She is able to meet with women and work together. She will learn from others and help them too. The cooperative is very good for our community. For too many years we have lived in war and violence and the poverty is terrible. When we cooperate and work together we can improve our lives."
My name is Julienne. My family is from Aba, DRC. My father died when I was just a baby and so my uncle raised me. When I was growing up, I worked with him and my aunt in the fields to help afford my school fees. Despite all that I have been through my positivity guides me and everyone knows how I love to laugh. Our cooperative has opened my eyes. The financial impact on my life is amazing. It helps my community in many ways. Thank you to all my customers who have helped me to create a brighter future.
My name is Tandiayo. I live in Durba, Congo with my fiancé and baby girl. Her name is Jamiyeh and she was born in April. After finishing secondary school in Aru, I moved to Durba to find work. I was sad to leave our cooperative but am looking forward to becoming a member in 2017 as Totonga Bomoi expands to work in Durba. My friends are also excited to learn more about running our own local business so that we can provide for our children. I also love learning English and practicing whenever Katie comes to visit us.
My name is Francine. I live in Aru with my husband and three children. We are blessed to care for several orphaned children in our village. My husband runs an electronics store in Aru and I am a sewing teacher at the all girls high school. I love supporting the women in my village as they improve their sewing. Thank you for your friendship and support of our cooperative.
Hello, my name is Faustin. I grew up in Aru, Congo with my parents and five brothers and sisters. I studied Business Management at the local university. I am proud to be part of Totonga Bomoi because of the development it brings to our community. It motivates me to use my knowledge to help others. I am able to use my understanding of computers and social media to connect our artisans to their customers in the U.S. As Program Manager, I am offered the chance to learn and be part of something that matters.