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).

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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!

#RunAgainstRape

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: www.caringcrowd.org/furnish-congo-refuge-sexual-violence-good-health

THANK YOU, J&J!!!

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. www.riverblindness.org

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

all of us say THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

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 http://www.womancradleofabundance.com/getinvolved

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 cciaranca@gmail.com  or (215) 292-3290 to discuss ways to partner with Woman, Cradle of Abundance.

Newsletter November 2016

WHAT FANTASTIC WOMEN! WHAT A WONDERFUL WELCOME!

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.

Newsletter Spring 2014

Newsletter Spring 2014

President Monique's Visit

Mme Monique Misenga Mukuna, president of Woman, Cradle of Abundance, DRC (the original one) came to visit! Affectionately known as “Maman Monique,” this amazing woman shared her stories, her vision, and herself with so many eager listeners. Her colleague Mme Henriette Kibadi was unable to come because the US consul refused to give her a visa. What a disappointment: but… next time!

Newsletter Winter 2014

Newsletter Winter 2014

Concert and Campaign: Great Success!

Thank you, thank you, thank you so much! Tuasakidila wa bungi! We are thrilled to share the wonderful news of your generosity. Together the marvelous jazz concert and the year-end gifts
swept us up to and then over our goal! Thanks to your kindness, we surpassed the $10,000 mark to match our challenge grant. There were 47 donors who contributed $10,894 to the fund for the women’s center, so as of January 1, 2014, the capital campaign has received $30,894.

Newsletter Fall 2013

Newsletter Fall 2013

Welcome

“Muoyo wenu! Life to you!” This is the Tshiluba “hello” and our warm greeting to friends of Woman, Cradle of Abundance. Together, Congolese and Americans, we are partners to help women and girls empower each other and be instruments of Muoyo muvulu! Life abundant! for themselves and their communities. Welcome to our first newsletter and some exciting happenings and hopes.