Newsletter September 2019

Maman MONIQUE’s Visit


Maman (Elder) Monique, visionary president of FEBA in Kinshasa, is in the USA for a church tour which includes San Jose, CA; Cherry Hill & Princeton, NJ; Charlotte, NC; Chicago, IL; Knoxville, TN; & more. For schedule, write Elsie.McKee@ptsem.eduIn NJ:

Trinity Presbyterian, 499 Route 70, East Cherry Hill, on Sept. 22, 10:45 a.m.

YWCA, Bramwell House, 59 Paul Robeson Place, Princeton, on Sept. 24, 5:00 p.m.

Witherspoon St. Presbyterian, 124 Witherspoon St., Princeton, at 10:00 a.m. on Sept. 29

Nassau Presbyterian, 61 Nassau St., Princeton, at 12:00 noon on Sept. 29.

       She brought new sewing creations;  fair trade markets will accompany her presentations & more are planned for the coming holiday season. Gifts that give twice! Stay tuned.


Farming in Uvira

Violence is everywhere, but especially in eastern Congo women suffer the consequences for the rest of their lives. They usually feed themselves & their families by gathering wood in the forest or farming traditional fields where subsistence crops are grown. Now to do that is to put themselves in danger of rape. So when they recover physically from the horror of violence, many have no way to support themselves.

   With our partner CENEDI in eastern Congo, we are helping these women begin a communal market garden to supply vegetables to the neighboring big city Uvira. Having one large field near their homes will allow the women to stay safe, working together in sight of the village; cultivating crops for sale gives them options. Their families are eager to help. The pilot project this summer has gone very well.

    So now is the time to launch the Communal Market Garden… with your help!


Thank you for rabbits!!!  First litter due next month.



Farm to Table is Coming!

Sewing is a great career, but not the only one. For many young women, “hospitality”/ restaurant skills are the goal; they have been knocking on the door for months. FEBA’s sewing school is so highly rated that the government office of vocational-technical study has urged its leaders to start a restaurant program. With the farm in production, crops & livestock, now is the time!


See the wonderful sign for FEBA’s Women’s Center which was donated by a generous Congolese friend (Maman Monique’s son)! The list of educational programs is very ambitious & not yet all in place, but the “restauration” school is next… with your help!


Fall Fundraiser: FARM  to TABLE

Food is what it’s all about!!!

Our Goal: $10,000, to be divided evenly between

the Uvira women’s farm

the Kinshasa cooking/ restaurant school.

More Details Coming, but please feel welcome to support the project soon. The rains begin & planting in Uvira starts this month…


Goma’s Wonderful School

The Community Charity School (CCS) in Goma is entering its 4th year, thanks to immense courage on the part of the leaders & the wonderful generosity of HAW (Hands Across the Water). Ebola has killed hundreds in the Goma region, but CCS has not closed. They have adapted, substituting creativity for running water.

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See the new benches in this classroom! And more are being constructed.

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A 2nd toilet under construction, so girls have their own space & need not miss school when they have their menstrual cycles.


Uvira Women’s Success

Several years ago HAW enabled the CENEDI partners to start two small micro-loan projects. One provided two sewing machines to three women in the village of Manene. They produced clothes for their neighbors but did not have a larger market. This summer that changed: CENEDI worked with the UN who run a nearby refugee camp to arrange for the women to make school uniforms for the children in the camp. The first half of the uniform order was delivered at the end of August, the second is due soon. HURRAH!


Challenges in Kinshasa

FEBA in Kinshasa rents a shop in the main market, to sell their products. In early August the ownership of the block of shops changed & the new owner came with police to force out the renters. Thanks to friends who dropped their work & came running, FEBA women were able to get their merchandise out of the shop, but left the display shelves; some renters did not even get all their goods before they were locked out. One young woman of FEBA set a table in front of the shop to sell school uniforms that regular clients were coming to buy. There was no recourse, but finally the new owner allowed renters to return… by paying $1000!

    At least, for the first time in nearly a year, there are actually people coming to buy…   


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 “Farm Needs,” 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 July 2019

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Peace-Making Training

Undeclared war continues in eastern Congo where our partner CENEDI (Center to Mentor Children in Difficulties) works. HAW (Hands Across the Water), our North American youth association, has supported education in Uvira for many years. One challenge now is finding work for the 32 graduates. A wonderful answer to that problem also addresses the local situation: a workshop to teach peace-making skills!

In the photo: sitting in front, L-R: Tamoni Swedi (a starfish, i.e., A.A./ diploma graduate supported by HAW) and Balonde Kimete (Chair person of CENEDI)

            Standing in front row, L-R: Bani Georges (the Trainer) in black shirt, Songambele Katembo (in red T-shirt), Sumaili Eyana, Teacher at Kaboke primary school (in white T-shirt), Elizabeth Masoka (in red T-shirt), Safari Kimete (in yellow T-shirt), Kakoba Kangula (a starfish), Maombi Consolate Louise (Member of CENEDI), Angalia Fatuma (Member of CENEDI and Psycho Social Assistant), Furaha Loonga (starfish), Bitangaca Mfumbe (starfish),

            Back row, L-R: Ikyeelo M’motoelwa (a teacher at Lwala Primary school), Swedi Sango (member of CENEDI), Sofia Mlebinge Alvine (a teacher at Biesse Primary school), Assumani Louis Djibela (Member of CENEDI and Teacher at Pemba Institute), Mayundo Shauri (a starfish), in green shirt and Ngandu Selemani Bahati (a teacher at Nakatende primary school) in blue shirt.

The Society of Friends (Quakers) has sponsored such projects for years, & some of CENEDI’s leaders are associated with the Quaker community. In May a qualified Quaker facilitator came to Munene (near Uvira) for a 5-day workshop, to teach 5 graduates & CENENI leaders how to create “Peace Clubs” in primary schools. This the first step of a comprehensive & well organized program to extend peace-making into the larger community.

The event was received with delight by the community, which has already asked for more workshops to form more young leaders - & older ones, too!

Thank YOU for Rabbits!

Many thanks to all who joined in our 5K! You did it! Some participated on Facebook, others sent the fruits of your walk-for-rabbits directly. You all are wonderful! The rabbit farm is launched & you have assured that this “teaching how to fish” adventure is off to a good start. A very special thanks to our anonymous donor for matching so many gifts! In our next newsletter we will have photos of the new rabbit farm in progress.


Sewing School Students Earn High Marks in State Certification!

 The sewing school has expanded in the Women’s Center. This month 17 young women completed the rigorous national certification: testing literacy, general knowledge, specific understanding of their equipment (how to use & care for their machine), as well as cutting out & creating shirts, dresses, etc. The items to be made are pictured & numbered; each student draws a number out of the hat & has two days to produce it – there are no patterns: creating your own is the norm.

Not only did they all pass: FEBA’s school came out at the very top of all the sewing schools participating! The examiners asked to come to FEBA’s graduation.

Here the young women gathered for prayer & a pep talk before the start of the 4-day exam. They are proud to belong to FEBA. Look at the T-shirts printed with “FEBA.” The young women scraped together the money for their shirts, by themselves!

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Mentoring Sewing Projects

FEBA has been mentoring a small school in the Kasai for several years. Here is the latest news from Tshikaji. The school is still recovering from the fighting in 2016-18. Supplies were limited. Students drifted away but with FEBA’s help there are new possibilities. See the beautiful materials & the young women who will be able now to complete their education & have a hopeful future.

Diplomas (A.A.) HURRAH!

Every year FEBA assists destitute young people complete their formal education by a major state exam crowned with a Diploma, about the equivalent of an A.A. This is a high – & expensive – goal, out-of-reach for most young people.

This year FEBA helped 12 students (7 girls, 5 boys) meet the cost of the final year & state exams. All passed, & one young woman did exceptionally well. Rejoicing is in order! Traditionally students throw flour on each other as a sign of success, & the flour was flying!

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Meet ANJALI DHAYAGUDE, our newest board member

Anjali is a senior at West Windsor Plainsboro High school North. She has been a part of the Hands Across the Water officer board at Community Middle School since 6th grade & has been the President of the club at the High School for the last two years. She has helped organize & carry out a series of fundraisers & events during her 7 years in HAW. She has now joined Woman Cradle of Abundance to continue to work on the various projects that both organizations have in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

              WELCOME, Anjali!!

MAMAN MONIQUE is Coming in September!

          Stay tuned for more news.

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 “Farm Needs,” 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 May 2019

Truck and Farm News!

Delighted FEBA members welcome the new truck! THANK YOU to everyone who contributed to our farm wheels. The pick-up has now begun service, carrying cassava & corn to Kinshasa to feed the poorest members of FEBA, & to sell for other urgent needs. For a peek at on-the-ground farming & loading, see the reverse side.

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Chickens & Rabbits Save the Day!

We have an exciting next step in our farm & food sufficiency project: small animal husbandry! The traditional African diet included meat or fish where those were available, but game is much scarcer now & protein-deficiency means poor health even for those who can get some cassava to eat.

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Years ago Maman Monique & her vet student assistant Fifi (left) began a project to demonstrate best husbandry practices & provide food for street children, but that successful start was destroyed by forces beyond their control. Now FEBA is looking forward to an exciting new beginning, raising chickens & rabbits to feed its community & sell to Kinshasa’s thriving restaurants.

We need a chicken house & rabbit pen, animal food, &trained farmworker to begin. By Christmas the project should be self-supporting.

This is not “giving a fish” but “teaching them to fish” by supplying boats and nets – or  in this instance, chickens & rabbits! – to launch forth! 

JOIN US to launch for success!

4th Annual (off-site) 5K

Do it your way: Invite a friend, be creative. You choose your 5K, we will celebrate any style you like; just join us!

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Run or walk,
Row or rock,
Dance or skip,
Just don’t trip.
Swing or slide,
Horse or bike,
Swim or float,
Bowl or hike!

Special Match! The first 40 people to report their 5K & send in their $25 will have their gifts matched by a generous anonymous donor!  Help us earn this additional $1000. Build a chicken coop & rabbit pen, expand our farm from bread to protein. Ending July 4. Donations:

More FARM News

The fields have been replanted, & the new corn “is (almost) as high as an elephant’s eye.” See the leaves of the shorter cassava plants in the foreground. 

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As explained in our last newsletter, cassava is a staple root food which takes a year to grow. Once harvested, it must be processed; the last of our first crop is being prepared. 1) First women peel the roots;

2) then they are soaked in water for three days; 3) & dried on racks (behind the make-shift pond) or rooftops.

The cured cassava is bagged in 120 kilo sacks, here being removed from the little storage house on the farm.

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Those are big heavy bags!

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Our new truck being loaded with cassava for market.

And a second layer of bags. There are limits…

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Newsletter April 2019

See Our New Truck!

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First, THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! Thank you to everyone who has helped us achieve this wonderful new step in self-sufficiency for the farm.

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It is a 2015 Nissan, used but in great condition, currently getting its license plates, insurance, etc. By the time you read this, it will be on the way to the farm to collect the harvest & bring it to Kinshasa to feed the poorest members of the community & to sell to support plowing & planting new crops of corn, beans, cassava.

What is cassava? It is a root which supplies the staple food of most Congolese; its leaves are another key food. Many of you may know cassava as the little particles in tapioca pudding. Cassava plants take a year to mature; then the roots must be peeled & dried before they can be cut up & pounded into flour. Alone cassava is pure starch, so it is often mixed with corn flour to provide some protein. Below: sacks of cassava roots from the first harvest.

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Brunch Mu(n)ch Success!

What a beautiful welcoming delicious day at Princeton United Methodist Church! So many thanks to our hosts, & to organizer Susan Lidstone, decorator Judy Miller, chef Ian MacDonald, & all who came to feast & learn. Money raised completed the import taxes to get our truck out of hock. WONDERFUL! THANK YOU SO MUCH!

The beautiful display of FEBA wares contributed to the success of the day. Missed it? Come visit us at Communiversity, April 28th, at Princeton United Methodist Church, Vandeventer & Nassau.  PS We have some exciting new jackets! Just the right weight for spring (or summer AC), go-everywhere style. Be the first in your neighborhood!

Back by popular demand: Get your photo with the amazing Ciaranca parrots! Communiversity April 28.

Women’s Day in Uvira

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Political & physical weather make life in eastern Congo a constant battle for survival. Guerilla conflicts continue, unseasonal storms batter villages. But in the midst of all this, women of Uvira still celebrate March 8, International Women’s Day, claiming their voices. Children & other members of the community rejoice with the women.

The women march in joy, celebrating that they have a right to speak. A new wrap dress (often the only new clothes they ever have) & a good meal: for once enough to eat, are two highlights of Women’s Day.

THANK YOU, Hands Across the Water at Community Middle School, Grover Middle School, High School North!

The young scholars at Community Middle School (CMS), Grover Middle School (GMS), Plainsboro West Windsor High School North have remained faithful to their Congolese brothers & sisters. Their fundraisers have insured that Community Charity School (CMS) in Goma can pay its bills (salaries & rent) through the end of this school year (11 months in Congo).

A little history: The HAW group at CMS was founded in 2007, with Ms. Cheryl Ciaranca. Its graduates took HAW with them to HS, where Anjali Dhayagude is president now. Last year Grover, led by Ms. Diane Chiocca, began to participate & hopes to have a full-fledged HAW club next year. You Are Wonderful Young People!

Newsletter January 2019

Elections Were Calm!

The Democratic Republic of Congo has experienced its first peaceful transfer of power since national independence from Belgium in 1960!

Through the turmoil of many delays & mostly small-scale violence, national elections were finally held on Dec. 30, 2018. Tensions were very high, military were everywhere, internet access was cut off for more than a week amid accusations from within & without about serious irregularities. YET…

On Jan. 24, the new President Tshisekedi was inaugurated, speaking of reconciliation & a “Congo for all.”

The country is generally calm. Commerce has been virtually dead for months, & people starving. The hope now is for a return to economic stability & the possibility for ordinary people to live, work, make ends meet. Tshisekedi’s province of origin is the Kasai, also the birthplace of Maman Monique & several other FEBA leaders. This area has suffered terribly since violence in 2016, so the presidency of one of their own is an encouraging sign that a new day has dawned. 

The Sewing School

For several weeks during the election tensions most schools in Kinshasa were closed & people stayed home. As soon as it was feasible, the sewing school opened again, with brave young women coming out despite the continuing anxieties. Now there are 42 young women & soon there will be 50. HURRAH for the new Women’s Center classrooms!!!

In celebration (& for practical reasons: 16 machines are simply not enough), new sewing machines are being bought, more chairs & tables are being ordered.

Would you like to provide a machine so that young women can progress through their studies, rather than sitting & waiting for a turn at a machine once or twice a day?

Women’s Center News

The courtyard of the Women’s Center has a roof! Heavy winds & rains were blowing into the open courtyard & into classrooms. (Climate change has made the old rainy season a monsoon & construction is having to adjust.) So now with a roof the courtyard is a very large, pleasant veranda where more activities can take place.

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The roof is at the first floor level. Part is corrugated iron, but at intervals there is clear roofing to admit light. The one disadvantage of the roof is the diminished light in the classrooms; the Center has wiring for lights, but the availability of electricity is very unreliable. Pictured above are the sewing teachers & a few students.

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These sewing school students are wearing the aprons they have made with pockets to hold their tape measures, needles, etc. (Scissors are too expensive for each to have her own.) In the back row is an albino student, born with insufficient melanin in the skin. Such people sometimes experience discrimination. But not at FEBA. At FEBA all are welcome!

American Student Transforms Life for a Student in Goma’s Community Charity School

Emily Kim, a beautiful young woman who has been a member of  Hands Across the Water (HAW) for years, graduated from Plainsboro West Windsor High School North last spring. This year, as she begins college, she has provided a scholarship of $55 for a student in the Community Charity School (CCS) in Goma. HAW has been the foundation & mainstay of support for the students in eastern Congo. Most children in the CCS are orphans or virtually destitute. Emily Kim’s gift will pay for a year’s education for a child… hope for a brighter future! Would you like to match Emily’s generosity?!

Yet War is Still with Us

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Eastern Congo, especially the Kivu where our associates live, has been in a semi-constant state of violence since 1996. The weeks before the elections saw an upsurge of attacks, & again the villages where our friends work were struck. As in Dec. 2014 (see winter/ Jan. 2015 newsletter), there were a series rapes & tortures: 21 women & girls (& several men). All needed hospitalization & some were there for weeks. We sent funds to pay for medical treatment, & all the victims have been able to return home, now walking wounded.

This woman was raped & then stabbed. Here she is being taken to hospital in a make-shift ambulance, the back of a 4-wheel drive vehicle.

Spring Pick-Up Truck:

Lunch & Learn with Us!

Come lunch & learn with us! A delicious brunch menu & opportunity to find out a little more about Congo & the amazing people with whom we work there.

WHEN: Sunday, March 24, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
WHERE: Princeton United Methodist Church, corner of Vandeventer & Nassau, Princeton, NJ
Suggested donation $10

Reservations are helpful for our preparations, but not required. You can RSVP by calling Susan Lidstone at 609-688-9979, or write an e-mail to Drop-ins are also welcome. Bring a friend or two!

Proceeds will help pay for our TRUCK’s Arrival! All machinery (& much else) must be imported into Congo. All business shut down for many weeks during the election tensions, but now it is calm. By February 1st the pick-up will be bought in Dubai & shipped by sea freight. However, the import dues are very high, so we are saving our pennies to get our truck out of hock & to the farm.

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!

Communiversity 2018

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.