Newsletter November 2018

Ending the Year Strong!


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What Excitement! Our Facebook page fundraiser was a great success. THANK YOU to each one who contributed to the $8,060 donated on Nov. 27! We are half-way to our goal of buying a (used) pick-up for the farm, to bring the harvest home. Part of the produce feeds the poorest FEBA members; part is sold to buy other necessities. When we must pay for transport, it takes a good part of the profits which would support other needs. Let’s have our pickup for the next harvest at the end of January! 

Here in the Women’s Center courtyard children display new school uniforms & school supplies:

Corn is a staple of daily life; these village women celebrate their harvest. As it is available, corn flour from the new farm is distributed to the poorest members of FEBA. The colorful bags contain 10 kilos of flour to help a woman & her family survive for weeks:


  • The Women’s Center completed!! Classes have begun in lovely new quarters, & the first graduation celebrated. See the whole story of the building on our website under “What We Do.”

  • 21 young men & women earned their state diplomas (equivalent of junior college). Dozens of orphans & destitute children have received school fees, uniforms, & supplies (see at left).

  • Farm success! The first 5 hectares produced well & the first corn harvest fed desperately poor women & orphans. The rest of the farm is now in production.

  • Community has been strengthened. Together leaders  & FEBA members supported each other through illness, floods, & death.

  • Goma’s Community Charity School survives to serve hundreds of destitute children.

  • And more!!!

Celebrating 32 Successes!

Since 2007, HAW (Hands Across the Water), a middle & high school club in NJ’s West Windsor Regional School District, has sup-ported education of 32 young women & men. Through the local Congo non-profit CENEDI  they have enabled their counterparts in war-torn eastern Congo to finish secondary school & achieve a state diploma. As many as could, gathered to rejoice & thank their North American friends. What a triumph of  determination & hope & caring across the waters! 

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HAW continues to support Community Charity School in Goma, providing  a free education to over 200 extremely impoverished & orphaned children. CCS needed to add 2 new classrooms this fall to accommodate the children who are now in 5th and 6th grade. This year we were assisted in that effort by Mrs. Chiocca & her 8th grade French students at Grover Middle School who hosted a wonderful auction on our behalf on Nov. 2nd.  Merci beaucoup for the love & support from Grover Middle School!

Update on Congo’s Elections & Challenges

Long-delayed elections are due on Dec. 23. These were originally scheduled for Dec. 2016, rescheduled for Dec. 2017. The president’s party has finally agreed to hold elections & has nominated one of his relatives. Seven opposition parties agreed on one candidate but several parties withdrew so there are two opposition candidates. This has led to threats from some opposition members against those who defected from the single candidate. The president insists on voting machines – which he bought – which many believe are rigged. Tensions are high. The hope is for peaceful elections, leading to a stable situation in which inflation will be controlled & people will again be able to eat. That will make a great difference to self-support by our partners, who cannot sell their sewing products if no one can buy. But fear is great…

Newsletter September 2018

Moving in to the Women’s Center!

In late July the sewing school moved into the Women’s Center! In August, the first Monthly Meeting (the 2nd Tuesday) gathered there for the first time. There were tears of joy, singing & dancing, & delight! Rejoice with us!

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The women are seated in the courtyard in front of classroom 2, with the FEBA office at the back. When more are present, chairs can be set in the stairwell (left of picture), in front of classroom 1 (right). Several more rows fit in front of these women. Also an overflow may sit in the classrooms with open windows & doors so that 150 to 200 can be accommodated. In difficult days when transportation is very expensive, fewer women can come, but some are always present. (When posing for photos it is traditional to look solemn: this is solemn joy.)

The outer blue line is actually a cement wall (on the street or enclosing the courtyard) or the wall of the building. For safety the only windows on the ground floor are in the courtyard.

 Students are delighted with new machines!

Students are delighted with new machines!

The classrooms serve for literacy & sewing on a daily basis, but will also be used for other educational programs. The office will enable FEBA to keep its records safely. Graduates who work for FEBA will use the sewing room.

Thanks to Susan Lidstone for producing our floor plan!! 

The Sewing School at Work in its New Home!

Classroom 1 windows face the street; the narrow passage between the building and the high wall around the Center admits light. (The cement block wall can be seen through the window.) The ventilation spaces are placed in the wall overlooking the next neighbor’s compound. 

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Classroom 2 (above) opens onto the courtyard. The back wall forms one side of the hall between the classroom & sewing work room.

 Maman Mianda teaches literacy.

Maman Mianda teaches literacy.

 Sewing patterns are drawn on the board: that is all you have!

Sewing patterns are drawn on the board: that is all you have!

Newsletter July 2018

Successful Students!

Congo’s academic year ends in July: we have wonderful news! All the seniors graduated well!!!

In Kinshasa FEBA supports about 60 children & youth: school uniforms, supplies, help with fees. After the senior year of secondary school there is a state exam; passing this is the only officially recognized evidence of a successful formal education. All ten seniors passed!

In Uvira the last group of students whom Hands Across the Water has supported through their whole education finished successfully!  Ten more graduates!

Plus all eleven sewing school students not only passed but did very well on their exams for state certification! That story & their graduation will be featured in our next newsletter.

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Further good news: Ms. Gode Kabangu, who graduated from the sewing school several years ago, has developed a thriving business, creatively drawing on West African models which are very popular in Congo. While sewing Ms. Gode has continued her studies, by herself. She took also the state exam for secondary school & passed! WOW!!! Thirty-two young lives changed forever for the better!

Haunted Fun Sleepy Hollow Hayrides

Avoid the ticketing lines & experience 3 amazing events at reduced price with our "Triple Terror Tickets.”

Ride a real hay wagon on a 230-acre haunted farm in Bucks County — a journey where live actors & animated spooks will thrill you. Venture through the "field of fright," a giant corn maze where you are never alone. For the highlight, visit the residents of award-winning Malfate Manor, operated by Midnight Productions professional theater group. Authentic, family friendly fun for all ages. Bonfire, live entertainment, picnic tables; buy or bring snacks & marshmallows for roasting. Gather friends & family together for a jolly evening

Tickets $35; buy 20 get 1 free. Your choice of dates: Sept. 29, Oct. 5, 6, 7, 12, 14, 19, 21, 25, 26, 28.

881 Highland Rd., Newtown, PA 18940.

Contact Cheryl Ciaranca at or call 215.292.3290

3rd Annual 5K Success

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What a great bunch of runners! Our 3rd annual 5K was a great success. Board member Anna Preston organized an actual run & it was great fun! Maman Monique was delighted to see these young friends supporting Congo. The total for the run was $3000. THANK YOU, SHARI, for your generous challenge grant! THANK YOU, EVERYONE, for your support! THANK YOU, ANNA and youth!

Community Charity School & HAW Finish the 3rd Year

Thanks to a generous matching donation, Community Charity School in Goma is going to be able to pay its final bills! This little school supported by Hands Across the Water (HAW) in New Jersey is now completing its third year! Simply surviving in a war zone is difficult, but thanks to HAW & its friends, CCS has made it possible for many destitute children to learn to read & write.

Welcoming Susan – for real!

Our dear friend Susan Lidstone has been an enthusiastic supporter of Woman, Cradle of Abundance since the beginning. While contributing her artistic talents, her creative energy, her warm sparkling spirit & big bright smile, Susan has resisted becoming an official board member. Until now! So we are delighted to welcome her & write her bio since she is too shy.

Susan brings beauty to life wherever she goes: whether it is creating displays for our FEBA sewing school products (& doing inventory); imagining & creating artwork for the African Soirées of our sister Congo non-profit UFAR (United Front Against Riverblindness); or demonstrating to Communiversity how to bargain in good African style. She also made the first major gift to launch the Women’s Center campaign in 2013, & has followed the progress generously. Hurrah for Susan-Sparkles Lidstone!

 UFAR Soiree with FEBA placemats & napkins, commissioned by Susan. Get yours at our  Shop !

UFAR Soiree with FEBA placemats & napkins, commissioned by Susan. Get yours at our Shop!


Congo Update

Congo is hoping for national elections, scheduled for Dec. 23, 2018. Originally they were set for Dec. 2016, but President Kabila refused to step down at the end of his 2nd & last constitutional term & did not organize elections. It is feared that in the next several weeks he will nominate  himself as a candidate for an unconstitutional 3rd term. He has the military power, but some Congolese are planning peaceful protests – the kind his soldiers put down with violence earlier this year.

Over the past two years, political uncertainty has brought economic & social devastation, violence & thousands of deaths. The Norweigan Refugee Council has put the DRC at the top of its list of the ten most neglected displaced-persons crises in the world. Even those who are still in their homes are dying of mal-nutrition because the inflation rate is so high. It is all the more amazing that our sisters & brothers in Congo have not given up but are continuing to build for the future (our graduates!) while trying to help the poorest find a minimal amount of food for their families.

Watch the news for Congo, & urge your Senators & Congress people to keep this humanitarian democratic crisis in their sights. Ms. Elizabeth Jaffee is the Senior DRC Desk Officer at the US State Department. Check the web for her participation in a Telephonic Briefing on the U.S. Humanitarian Assistance and Policy for the Democratic Republic of Congo, April 17, 2018.

Newsletter May 2018

See the New Farm

The first season’s crops are growing well! Corn & beans will be ready for harvest in June, manioc later in the year. This will feed the students & poorest members of FEBA, many of whom are almost starving in the current politico-economic situation. The rest will be sold to pay for other necessities to support nutrition & health. Thank you for our farm, First Presbyterian Church of Evanston!

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Before they can harvest, the women need a place to stay at the farm & storage for the crops until they are transported to Kinshasa. First Presby has started a farm-house project. Thank you! (For now FEBA rents space on a truck for transport to Kinshasa, but eventually the project needs its pick-up for a self sustaining agricultural success.)

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The farm guard hosted Mme Henriette & Mme Antoinette when they came to see the progress & assess on-going needs… such as weeding!!!

Coming next time: the sewing school moves into the Tomisunga Women’s Center!


3rd Annual Run Against Rape


Grab a friend, an aunt, a brother, your kids, & run, walk, row, or bike a 5K wherever you are! Our third annual RunAgainstRape will launch again this coming June. Choose a day in June, run your 5K wherever you are, & send Woman, Cradle of Abundance a picture & $25 for each person involved. In the past, the creativity had families swimming, rocking in rocking chairs, biking & hiking a 5K, all to raise money to help our Congo sisters. Extra points for the most creative 5K!


Maman Monique on TV

On April 2 Maman Monique was interviewed on The Dr. Joy Show hosted on Princeton Community TV!

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It was wonderful! Great thanks to Susan & Mayra for set up & running it all, to Cheryl & Joe; lovely friendly parrots Maddie & Mariah posed with guests. Susan congratulates a beautiful customer model-ing her new FEBA jacket!

Don’t you want one, too?!

Or a pillow cover, bag, shirt, bracelet, earrings?

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Special thanks to a great bunch of young people from Hands Across the Water (HAW) in Plainsboro! From middle school (CMS) through high (HSNorth) they have enthusiastically supported students in eastern Congo: education for orphans in Uvira & Goma, hope for war-torn communities. HURRAH, HAW!

Suffering Floods

Warning This photo may be disturbing to some viewers. View photo

Our sisters & brothers in Uvira, Goma, survivors of war & rape, orphans & widows, are mourning the deaths of friends & family who have been drowned. We have sent some aid; you can help.

Climate Change Disasters


In Congo the annual rainy season used to be a predictable heavy rain (1+ hours/ day) for about 6 months. Now it has become an annual disaster of continuous torrential rains that produce floods, unpredictable in timing or length. In Kinshasa (south of the equator) people as well as homes were swept away in Nov.-Dec. In northeastern Congo, on the other side of the equator, now is the disaster.

Mountains wash down on villages, nearby Lake Tanganyika has inundated coastal inhabitants. Many are struggling to stay alive huddled together without shelter, rain beating down on them.

Newsletter March 2018

Maman Monique at PTS

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On March 16 Maman Monique was one of the keynote speakers at Princeton Theological Seminary’s 4th African Women Extraordinaire (AWE) symposium on Women & Violence in Africa.  Her presentation, “The Many Faces of Violence & How Women Confront & Resist Violence in Congo-Kinshasa,” was very moving, as she told stories of women she knows, & her own story. Women help each other in face of their daily struggles with domestic, cultural, political violence. The audience listened carefully to the pain & marveled at the humor: Eve as the highpoint of creation… God was practicing on Adam! To hear both keynote lectures from AWE, click here).

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All the members of Elsie’s class on Women in African Christianity participated in leading the AWE symposium. Some also interviewed Maman Monique for their special projects, & others happily bought & dressed in the beautiful creations from FEBA. Sharing hugs was important, too!

Maman Monique at HAW

Maman Monique visited two middle schools, Community Middle School where Hands Across the Water (HAW) was born, & a new home at Grover Middle School. At CMS Ms. Tina Avarello’s group were fascinated by stories of their counterparts in Uvira & especially at Community Charity School in Goma. At Grover, Ms. Diane Chiocco’s French classes learned about education in Congo & practiced hearing new French speakers at the same time.

A lovely young student at Grover also interviewed Maman Monique to share the news of her visit.

All the members of Elsie's class on Woman in African Christianity participated in leading the AWE symposium. Some also interviewed Maman Monique for their special projects, and others happily bought and dressed in the beautiful creations from FEBA. Sharing hugs was important, too!

HAW Fundraiser at Community Middle School

The active HAW club at CMS held a very successful auction on March 10 – despite the snowstorm that week!  Thanks to HAW at CMS & other friends (including new friends at Grover!) Community Charity School in Goma is continuing to serve some of the poorest orphans in Congo. You make it possible for them to finish the year!

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Come to Communiversity!

Princeton’s annual town-and-gown (university) festival will be April 29. Come join us, see the Ciaranca family’s marvelous parrots (back by popular request!), & enjoy yourself while helping others! We will be located at the corner of Nassau & Vandeventer.

Tie-dyed Extravaganza

Despite the on-going social, political, & economic trials in Congo, which mean that more & more are dying of hunger as well as violence – despite that, the women of the sewing school are still working to create beauty as well as teach young girls how to read, write, & sew. The newest things are tie-dyed: shirts, dresses, skirts, handbags, clutches, change purses, & more! Just look at this quilt: full double-bed size.

And reversible!

Shop on Etsy!


Invite us to bring a fair trade market to your place! Contact Elsie or Cheryl.

Newsletter January 2018


Our Tomisunga (“We help each other”) Women’s Center campaign has been a fine success! Thank you to everyone of you who helped meet our challenge grant!



Our good friend Dr. Daniel Shungu visited the project in December & brought back glowing reports & photos of the almost-completed-Center! The workmen have faced many difficulties: torrential rains as well as extreme political instability (see next page) but we hope to begin moving into Tomisunga by February.

Maman Monique is Coming!

SAVE the DATE!!  We will be blessed to welcome Mme Monique for a conference at Princeton Seminary. On Friday, March 16, 2018, Elsie’s class Women in African Christianity & the PTS Center for Theology, Women, & Gender will host the 4th African Women Extraordinaire (AWE) symposium. For more information, see or contact

Sewing School Graduation Dec. 2017!

 Ten young women celebrated their sewing success, lined up for a graduation procession in the dresses they made.

Ten young women celebrated their sewing success, lined up for a graduation procession in the dresses they made.

Alums of the program return to tell their stories, to encourage new graduates. One young woman who had been forced to drop out of formal school for lack of money told how her sewing business enabled her to afford to complete her formal education. Another told of now being able to support her destitute family; some family members were present, tears in their eyes.

 Graduates show off the lovely clothes they have made, their state certificates, & the graduation-gift machines which will enable the young women to begin business.

Graduates show off the lovely clothes they have made, their state certificates, & the graduation-gift machines which will enable the young women to begin business.

Government officials who attended were so impressed that they expressed a wish to help support the teachers’ salaries. (We will see if they carry through! But it was a significant affirmation of the quality of teaching at FEBA/ Woman Cradle of Abundance’s school.)

THANK YOU to all who contributed machines! Your generosity is the door to dignity, hope, & self-sufficiency!

Congo’s Trials

The United Nations report on refugees has recently announced that the Congo is moving toward the infamous status of becoming the world’s most serious humanitarian crisis in 2018. There are already 4 million displaced persons in Congo in 2016-17 – that is more than in Syria, Iraq, or Yemen. There are three wars, two in places where Woman Cradle of Abundance is involved. Congo’s government has largely been responsible for exacerbating (if not deliberately causing) much of it. Joseph Kabila was supposed to step down in Dec. 2016 at the end of his 2nd & last constitutional term. He has not. The Catholic bishops negotiated an agreement Dec. 31, 2016 (St. Sylvester), which Kabila has not honored. Peaceful protests by Catholic laity on Sun. Dec. 31, 2017, were dispersed with teargas & bullets. The casualty count is not yet known.

    In this situation the economy has nearly collapsed. “Ordinary people” who had decent jobs are scarcely able to eat, & those on the margins are starving. FEBA (Woman Cradle of Abundance in Kinshasa) has been able to sell only a fraction of its usual goods: Christmas/New Year is normally a high point. Now FEBA is struggling to feed its members. The new farm will begin production in 2018; the tiny stratum of power around Kabila has insured delay by commandeering equipment scheduled for plowing. But Mme Monique & FEBA are determined & faithful. They do not give up! They will plant  & grow as soon as the rains & equipment allow!

Contribute or Get Involved

Contribute: Donate securely via Stripe at:

Please designate “Leadership Development” in the purpose line to contribute to equipping the next generation of leaders, or “Sustaining Gift” to support ongoing work.

Checks payable to Woman, Cradle of Abundance can be mailed to the following address:

Woman, Cradle of Abundance
attn:  John McGlaughlin, Treasurer
25 Alexander St.
Princeton, NJ 08525

Volunteer: Contact Cheryl Ciaranca, Community Outreach Coordinator, at  or 215.292.3290 to discuss ways to partner with Woman Cradle of Abundance.




Newsletter August 2017

Sharing Sewing Skills with Sisters

Our partner ROW (now Mission: Hope) has been supporting a sewing school at Tshikaji, in the Kasai, to educate young women in a career. The three fine women who lead it were never formally trained as tailors or sewing teachers though they have done their best. Woman Cradle of Abundance was asked to help this sister school. In summer 2016 one teacher, Mme Beki, spent three weeks in Kinshasa, observing the work & organization of the Woman Cradle of Abundance school. Mme Monique & Mme Jeannette (head sewing teacher) were invited to come to the Kasai to teach a workshop. 

The visit was postponed many months because of serious fighting in Kasai (see below). In July 2017 Kasai was calmer, though desperately poor. No cars… so a motor cycle taxi it is for Mme Monique & Mme Jeannette.

Members of the sewing school at Tshikaji have suffered in the devastation of the war, so Woman Cradle of Abundance wanted to encourage them as well as teach. Then they explored questions of organizing studies, developing meansof self-support, the importance of quality in the products in order to find markets. And Mme Monique & Mme Jeannette presented Mme Beki, Mme Rose, & Mme Marthe with a gift of material to practice the new things they had learned about sewing.

Now they smile and show off the lovely shirts they made in their workshop. Sisters are partners.


Aid to Refugees

The Kasai area has been devastated by fighting, rape, murder, pillage, for many months. Over 3000 dead, more than 100,000 displaced: refugees struggle simply to survive, as they mourn the deaths of their families, the loss of everything. Woman Cradle of Abundance shared in the collectionoffoodandclothing by churchwomen in Kinshasa;  thanks to the UN for transporting the aid. In July Mme Monique participated in this mission to Kananga, capital of the west Kasai, to distribute food and comfort for hundreds of orphans &  widows fleeing the fighting, hiding in forests, walking 2, 3, even 4 weeks to relative safety in Kananga. One pregnant woman gave birth to triplets in the forest; one died of cold, she now cares for the remaining two. There is not enough food.

Congrats to Grads!

Completing secondary school (about junior college level) is a major accomplishment in Congo, where most young people never can afford the cost. Or cannot pay for a school which teaches them well enough to pass the state exams which are the only recognized certification of education. You also pay to register for the exams. Woman Cradle of Abundance helps as many children as possible pay school fees. This year they are delighted to announce that all nine secondary students in their final year passed their state exams! Congratulations, Graduates! Congratulations, Woman Cradle of Abundance!

Thank you to Participants in #RunAgainstRape!!!

Thank you, Friends! We are so grateful to all who participated in our second annual 5K #RunAgainstRape! You are creative runners (or walkers or …!) & Woman Cradle of Abundance says “Merci beaucoup!!!”

Note: Elsie McKee was not able to make her planned trip to Congo because of the unrest. She still plans to go next year, if possible.

Newsletter May 2017

Thank You's

J&J CaringCrowd successful! Thank you to all who participated in this match challenge to furnish our new Tomisunga Women’s Center! We met the goal of $7000 + 10%, so $7700 is providing for tables & chairs, beds & cupboards, pots & pans & dishes, a freezer, & furnishings for office & counseling room. THANK YOU!

English lessons, thanks to Nassau Presbyterian Church! Over the past 18 months, Nassau has enabled two leaders of FEBA to take English lessons; now they have generously funded six months of group lessons for eight leaders. English is a necessary tool; only Maman Monique is fluent. Maman Antoinette et Maman Denise are continuing to improve, & six others are beginning lessons. THANK YOU!

Sewing machines! Thanks to Witherspoon Presbyterian, funding for four new treadle machines & pairs of sturdy scissors is on its way to Congo for the school. Treadle machines are more expensive but last much longer. Thanks to other individuals: Valerie Smith, Jean Escarpeta, Nancy Beatty, for giving manual machines this year. Every one helps. THANK YOU!

Hands Across the Water & Fascination in Feathers! Members of W.Windsor-Plainsboro HS joined the Ciaranca’s for a wonderful display at Princeton’s Communiversity on April 30. The birds drew a delighted crowd, especially young & young at heart. Thanks to HAW, to the Ciaranca’s, to PUMC for space. THANK YOU!

Congo’s Trials

Update on Political Situation: Congo has been in turmoil since last fall when it became clear that president Kabila intended to hang on to power after his second & last constitutional term. The Catholic bishops served their country well by negotiating an agreement for a transitional government to be led by the opposition, to prepare for elections by Dec. 2017. Mr. Etienne Tshisekedi, advocate of non-violence & leader of resistance to dictators for more than 35 years, & the one political figure most Congolese trusted, was expected to oversee the transition. Tragically for Congo, the Dec. 31 agreement has unraveled in part because 84-year-old Tshisekedi died on Feb. 1.

Violence has punctuated life in Kinshasa. Semi-continuous fighting between Kabila’s army & followers of a local chieftain have torn apart the usually peaceful Kasai province. Hundreds have been killed, including women & children & unarmed men; many thousands have been displaced, robbed, raped, driven into the forest to hide. Mass graveyards have been found; two UN experts sent to find out more about the massacres were kidnapped & murdered. Children have missed months of school: & they are the lucky ones; many hundreds are orphaned & destitute. FEBA’s leaders in Kinshasa & the US are seeking ways to respond. And eastern Congo continues to be ravaged by guerilla war, & rape & destruction go on (see below for story from our partners).


Update on Economic Situation: Inflation has passed 300%; each day is worse. The dollar economy functions but no one can buy; the informal economy (based mostly on the tiny businesses of poor women) has almost ground to a halt. People are starving. FEBA has been able to sell only a fraction of its usual volume of sewing products. Usually Christmas-New Year’s or Easter (most Congolese are Christians), & fall or spring for beginning or end of school, are good seasons for sales, but this year there has been pitifully little. Thanks to donations, FEBA’s school continues & its members are eating, & they pray for peace.

Violence, Rape & Murder

In Kinshasa at least ten victims of violence (domestic, war/ disease-related) come to FEBA each week. Just a few weeks ago a car (apparently deliberately) ran into one of the students at the sewing school, breaking many bones (clavicle, ribs, arm). Pursuing justice is practically impossible & exorbitantly expensive, so the best FEBA can do is help with medical care & counseling.

In eastern Congo our partner CENEDI has focused primarily on educating children, but they also work with the families & villages of students. Over the years, 80 women & girls have been raped. Trauma & destitution, with all the attendant ills, are the fruit.

Just a few weeks ago, this became worse. Five survivors of rape were working in the field of one woman (they agreed to go as a group to each one’s field in turn, so no one would be alone). A guerilla came out of the forest & attacked one woman (whose field it was); the other four tried to fend him off, but he called for reinforcements & the women fled, barely escaping by taking different ways through the forest, as shots were fired at them. They were bleeding & hurt when got to the village but they called for help; they returned to find the first woman had been raped (again) & shot to death. Some financial assistance has been sent for medical & counseling treatment. Any gifts for these women will be gratefully received.

Second Annual 5K #RunAgainstRape

Join us to run – or walk, or row, or rock, or ____ Map out your 5k and post the image to my Facebook page. Make your $25 donation online. Your money will be matched by a generous donor to FURNISH the women’s center you helped us build over the last year. I hope you’ll join Shari & the bunch for our second Run Against Rape 5k (remote edition)! 

Run where you are. Support an awesome cause. As a thank you, Shari will send you a Run Against Rape bracelet from Woman, Cradle of Abundance.

Let’s pound the pavement!


A Visit to Congo

In July Elsie McKee plans to visit FEBA, for the inauguration of the Tomisunga Center, to hear the English students demonstrate their new knowledge, to continue research on Maman Monique’s story. We hope all will go well… If you would like to send a small gift for English books for the students, or vitamins, calcium, etc. for elderly women, please make a donation online.

Newsletter March 2017

FEBA will have a FARM!

 Celebrating a harvest from the old farm in 2003

Celebrating a harvest from the old farm in 2003

Wonderful News! First Presbyterian Church of Evanston, IL, has just made a dream come true! FEBA will soon have a farm again. (Their old farm became untenable when the president’s mother moved in next door & soldiers stole harvests & raped the women. This farm will be in a place where the local community has maintained security for many years.)

The grant of $10,000 will pay for the 10 hectares of land & for clearing & plowing it. FEBA’s agricultural committee will organize planting, weeding, harvesting, equivalent to $6000 in labor. The produce will feed the residents of the new Tomisunga Women’s Center & the sale of the rest will provide income for other needs. By the time the farm is bought & cleared, it will be dry season; significant planting must wait until the rainy season starts in Sept. so harvests will begin only around the end of 2017.

THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH, First Presbyterian of Evanston!!!

Furnishing the Women’s Center

Our women’s center has a name:  Tomisunga (Lingala for “We Help Each Other”). Thanks to a crowdfunding-&-match program, we are hoping to furnish the Center in the next couple of months. J&J’s CaringCrowd program hosts crowdfunding for health programs - & will match every gift (according to a specific plan). We are delighted to announce that our proposal has been accepted & is actually moving along! We are at 45% after only three days!

It is called “Furnish a Congo Refuge: From Violence to Good Health.” The project goal is $7000 to furnish beds & tables & chairs & kitchen equipment & counseling room & office spaces. We need online pledges equaling $3500 by April 10, & J&J will match every gift (up to $250/person) – plus 10%! To contribute:


Fair-Trade Market — April 8

Come perk up your spring wardrobe! Add a new African art purse, or a bright colored dress, or a splashy new shirt, or the perfect earrings. How about cheering your table with a placemat & napkin set that sparkles with life? Or a conversation-piece Kuba art pillow/wall hanging? Find the perfect Mother’s Day gift for your mother & help mothers in Congo feed their children.

All at the UFAR African Soiree, at Princeton United Methodist Church, 7 Vandeventer Ave., Princeton, 5-8:30 p.m. (doors open at 4:30). The special speaker is Dr. William Campbell, 2015 Nobel laureate for Medicine. Tickets $35-$100.

Communiversity BIRDS!

Fascination in Feathers! Back by popular demand!

Come to Princeton’s annual Communiversity on April 30 at Princeton United Methodist Church, corner of Vandeventer & Nassau, 1-5 p.m. & see the amazing Ciaranca birds. Have your photo taken with these brilliant beauties, hear what is happening at Woman Cradle of Abundance & Hands Across the Water, enjoy making a difference in the world while you make the acquaintance of these gorgeous birds.

Thanks, HAW volunteers (West Windsor HS North) & Cheryl & Joe Ciaranca! Thanks, PUMC!

Community Charity School Says Thank You!

It is said it takes a village to raise a child but nowhere is that more evident than in the city of Goma in war ravaged eastern Congo.  CENEDI, our Congolese affiliate N.G.O. has been assisting the hundreds of children orphaned by the violence of militia groups, war and illness, but with no financial support other than Hands Across the Water’s fundraising efforts.  The struggle to provide safe haven and quality education for these children is even more challenging during the recent political upheaval and economic downturn.  Community Charity School in Goma has never turned a child away for lack of means to pay, truly a shining example of what dedicated American students can do to help children on the other side of the globe.  Over 50% of the money to establish the school and keep it running has come from students right here in New Jersey.  The current struggles in Eastern Congo have now raised our sponsorship to 80%. With a 300% rate of inflation, families have lost their meager income, and supporters are no longer able to assist.  Education becomes the last priority for families who struggle to eat.

Community Middle School, in Plainsboro, continues to fundraise to support their “little brothers and sisters” in Congo, having held a talent show and auction February 13th raising over $2,300.00.  South Brunswick High School students joined the effort this year with a $500.00 donation and additional fundraisers are being planned at High School North in Plainsboro.  We thank all of these wonderful students and our adult donors for their generous efforts to keep CCS open. Sadly, THEY CAN’T DO IT ALONE!

CCS operates on a budget of $1,050.00 monthly providing a quality education and one daily meal to a population of children living in a poverty few Americans can imagine. It is not hard to understand that with the current circumstances, the school is struggling to keep the doors open!  THIS IS WHERE YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!  Please join us in the fight to assist these wonderful children by making a donation of whatever you can.  Help ensure that Community Charity School does not fall victim to the current political struggles in Congo. 

Please visit www.handacrossthewaterforcongo for more information on Community Charity School and the efforts of our New Jersey students!

Newsletter January 2017

The Women's Center Is Up!

At last!  Despite many challenges, the construction is almost finished! The roofhas been completed, the final walls are being bricked in (after removing interior scaffolding needed for the roof)! The septic tank & toilets are next, & replacing the concrete fence is next. Soon windows & doors will be fitted.

The idealized model of the Centre faces the street, with a narrow courtyard in front & to the side of the ground floor; small 2nd floor balconies are above. Not shown aresurrounding houses: a lot of quite cozy neighbors!

Moving in may begin next month. Still needed are many items of equipment: tables, chairs, & chalkboards for teaching; beds, cupboards, kitchen & tableware for residents (battered women, sewing students & orphans); furnishings for office & counseling.

Capital Campaign Success! Thank You All!

Tuasakidila wa bungi! Merci beaucoup! What wonderful people you are! THANK YOU SO MUCH from all of us:

  • from Maman Monique & all her colleagues, students in the sewing school & day schools, victims of rape & violence & floods & hunger & homelessness & AIDS & more;
  • from our little non-profit in NJ


We cannot begin to name everyone, but we want to identify a few big events: three concerts “Chansons pour le Congo!” by Karrin Allyson, 2013, 2014, 2015, put us on the map! Thank you so much, Karrin!!!  Two concerts “Pour Femmes” organized by Anna de Groot in 2016 filled our final campaign year with song. Thank you so much, Anna & Friends! A number of generous donors have swelled our coffers with their matching grant challenges & YOU have matched their gifts! Thank you so much, Kind Friends Everyone!

Naming Success: Land was bought in 2014, the building is complete in January 2017! Dreams can come true! Thanks to you, Woman Cradle of Abundance now has a home.

Naming Hope: A home needs furnishing (see across the page), & we hope that you may be willing to continue your generosity on this smaller scale, especially as Congo faces such difficult days. Give a chair or table or bed or pillows or plates!

Trials & THanksgiving in Congo

Congo has been passing through a severe political storm. It is not over yet, but the grave fears of the past several months have been eased & all are thankful.

As noted in our Oct. newsletter, the president of Congo refused to organize elections or step down at the end of his 2nd term. Peaceful protests were met with military violence in Sept., local conflicts (as in Kasai, where Maman Monique & other FEBA leaders were born) have taken more lives, the continuing war in eastern Congo has been aggravated. In Kinshasa most people stayed home much of Dec. but soldiers & police have entered & arrested hundreds, mostly young men. Food is very scarce; tripled prices spell hunger, empty markets, few sales. Yet they pray daily.

The Roman Catholic bishops have labored for weeks to bring the president’s party & opposition groups together. Dec. 31 – the last minute! - the accord was signed: Kabila remains in place but may not seek reelection or changes to the constitution, a transitional body headed by Tshisekedi, the opposition leader, will oversee until elections in late 2017.  Challenges remain, but the people are hopeful & thankful & returning to normal life!

How We Have Grown!

Contribute or Get Involved

Contribute: Donate securely via Stripe at

Please designate “Capital Campaign” in the purpose line to contribute to equipping the Women’s Center, or “Sustaining Gift” to support ongoing work.

Checks payable to Woman, Cradle of Abundance can be mailed to the following address:

Woman, Cradle of Abundance
attn:  Cheryl Ciaranca, Treasurer
25 Alexander St.
Princeton, NJ 08525

Volunteer: Contact Cheryl Ciaranca, Community Outreach Coordinator, at  or (215) 292-3290 to discuss ways to partner with Woman, Cradle of Abundance.

Newsletter November 2016


Maman Monique & Maman Antoinette with us – wow! Telling stories of their own experiences & the women & girls & orphans they serve,  learning about women’s shelters in the US, sharing challenges & successes with wonderful friends: new or familiar, making & deepening special ties. What a feast of times together!. Building on the last newsletter, here are a few highlights.

Graduation for the Sewing School

In mid-Sept. the sewing school “state exams” were held. Representatives of the government dept. which oversees vocational education are invited to test students’ abilities in order for them to earn an official certificate. The process is rigorous: each candidate chooses at random from a hat the number of a picture of an article of clothing & must create that by herself without a pattern or any assistance in two days. Examiners also test literacy & other skills. Woman Cradle of Abundance’s school passed with flying colors! The examiners were so impressed that they suggested expanding to a culinary school & other skills. A few weeks later the official graduation ceremonies were held in a nearby church, with representatives of state & church & community as well as families. Thirteen young women completed their program & received sewing machines to begin their independent careers. THANKYOU to SO MANY FRIENDS who have made this wonderful day possible!!!

Newsletter October 2016

Newsletter October 2016

Concert Pour Femme II

The concert was a wonderful afternoon! Beautiful lesser known songs by famous French lyric composers, great performances by Annie Bryson, James Camp, Lesly de Groot, Colleen & Jacob Kinderman, Zachary Krieger, Kenny Litvack, & Shane Tapley, accompanied by Anna de Groot & James Sparks. Guests enjoyed talking with Mrs. Antoinette & Mrs. Monique & viewing the lovely merchandise made by the sewing school students. THANK YOU, kind friends, THANK YOU, Anna!!!

Newsletter Summer 2016

Newsletter Summer 2016

Maman Monique & Antoinette!

They will soon be here! Our visionary President of FEBA in Congo Maman Monique Misenga Mukuna & her colleague, nurse & life skills teacher Maman Antoinette Muleka Tshisauka will visit the US in September-October. See them in Virginia or Chicago in Sept., in Boston in October! Meet them in New Jersey &  Pennsylvania in October.

Newsletter Spring 2016

Newsletter Spring 2016

Visits from Our Sisters!

In March we had the pleasure of hosting Mme Tshilanda "Tish" Mukala, now of Boston, to represent Woman Cradle of Abundance at Princeton Seminary's 3rd African Women Extraordinaire (AWE) conference, as "Maman Monique" did in 2014. Tish's story was very moving, as she recounted the work which Maman Monique has been doing for 20 years, even before FEBA was formally established. Maman Monique is bringing Antoinette Muleka Tshisuaka, & Denise Sakisa Ngome to see us! The visit we hoped for in spring had to be postponed but the plans for October 2016 are even more exciting. Special events include a 3-day visit to Georgian Court University, a lecture at Princeton Seminary,
visits in churches & with special friends & donors. The visit combines leadership development for Antoinette & Denise & an opportunity for us to meet & hear their stories.

Pour Femme - A Benefit Recital Featuring Music of Female Composers

Pour Femme - A Benefit Recital Featuring Music of Female Composers

Where: Trinity Episcopal Church, 33 Mercer St. Princeton, NJ
When: Saturday, February 6, 2016 at 4:30pm
Tickets: Adults - $35 // Students - $15

Performances by:
The American Boychoir, Fernando Malvar-Ruiz, conductor, Fred Meads, conductor
Lesly de Groot, Doreen Fryling, and Jorie Moss, sopranos
Eva Kastner - Puschl, mezzo-soprano
Shane Tapley, tenor
Anna de Groot, piano

Newsletter Summer 2015

Newsletter Summer 2015

A Visit to Congo!!!  Part One

What amazing people! My husband John McGlaughlin and I spent two weeks in Kinshasa with Maman Monique, her colleagues, friends, & students: what a welcoming, hospitable, & generous group! They shared their stories & struggles, their courage & faith & songs with us, & showed us many of the regular activities by which Woman, Cradle of Abundance empowers girls and women, widows and orphans, to begin transforming their lives.

Newsletter Winter 2015

Newsletter Winter 2015

Developments & Trials in the Congo

Our Uvira Project - Our sisters in eastern Congo have been raped and we appeal for your compassion for them.  Last spring Woman, Cradle of Abundance adopted a daughter non-profit in eastern Congo which has long been supported by the “Hands Across the Water” club at Community Middle School (see our spring newsletter).  The main work of this project has been education: paying school fees and supplies for girls and boys from several villages near the city of Uvira.  Shortly before Christmas the endemic civil war engulfed mothers from these villages.  About fourteen or more women of all ages, and a child of 8! were raped while collecting firewood in the nearby forest. The attackers were probably militia or guerilla fighters seeking simply to show their power; the women had nothing valuable to steal. The violence and physical pain are the stuff of nightmare.  That is not all these poor women face, though; by tradition, victims of rape are traditionally blamed and excluded from their families.  The suffering goes beyond violation and shame and broken bodies; it shatters lives.  Some of the women are single mothers (one widow, others abandoned); others are married; one is a little girl of 8.  Medical help has been provided, and some counseling, but more assistance is needed to help these dear sisters find their way back to health and (by God’s mercy) to acceptance and hope.