Newsletter Spring 2015

Women’s Center News: Building Has Begun!!!

The architect’s vision shows the building from the right side. There are ground floor windows onto the street. For security, other walls have ceiling level ventilation.

The walls of the first two classrooms are going up and by summer the sewing school will move into its new home! When that happens, Woman, Cradle of Abundance in Kinshasa can apply for grants to help with the next stage. Members of the organization are very excited & contributing as they are able.

The second floor This level  is partly public: with a display room to show products of the sewing school & a conference room which can be rented by the hour for special events (e.g., women’s groups). Most of the floor is cooking, dining, and dormitory space for some battered girls & women, homeless orphans, sewing students whose homes are at a distance, & a matron.

The ground floor. From the street an entrance leads into the reception area, another to the hall which gives access to the interior of the Women’s Center. Two multipurpose classrooms & the sewing workroom (“atelier”) form the central education section. In the rear are rooms for counseling, office,  storage & toilets. 

Capital Campaign – Update

As now re-defined there are three stages to the Capital Campaign, & we are close to completing the second, thanks to your generosity! Phase 1 was the land purchase; Phase 2 is building the ground floor; Phase 3 will be the second floor & solar panels. Kinshasa is one of the ten most expensive cities in Sub-Saharan Africa (& not at the bottom of the ten, either!); prices have risen astronomically since spring 2013 when the Campaign was planned; the revised goal is $150,000. By Aug. 2014 the land was purchased for $64,000. Phase 2 began in Sept. 2014 & we hope to finish it by Aug. 2015; to date $30,000 has been contributed for building, $15,000 by Dec. 2014 & another $15,000 by March 31, 2015. THANK YOU for all your generous help! To encourage us an anonymous donor will match all gifts received by Aug. 31, up to $5,000. PLEASE help us finish Phase 2 this summer!

Visiting Congo

At the end of July Elsie McKee will visit Woman, Cradle of Abundance in Kinshasa for two weeks to see the Women’s Center going up, meet & interview more girls & women, & gather research to tell the story of Maman Monique & Woman, Cradle of Abundance. There will be lots of new photos & amazing stories! Would you like to send a small gift? I will be taking Calcium & vitamins; many girls & women are so poor that they are constantly malnourished; a few small tablets means the difference between sickness & health. Send a vitamin “care package” for a mother to care for her whole family.

A Wonderful African Market

At the March 21 African Soirée Shari, Lisa, & Cheryl displayed creations from the sewing school. Jackets & shirts, Kuba raffia pillows & purses, all kinds of bags! Ask your church or club to host a Fair-Trade Market & invite us to bring some exotic creations to show & sell.  Harvest fair? Plan ahead for Christmas?

Sewing School Graduation!

The young ladies of the sewing school who completed their studies last summer have formally graduated & received their machines! The program is officially certified by the national Board of Education in the category of Practical (Informal) Education. A jury from the Board examines the graduates. Organizing this “jury” wasdelayed for months owing to the need to schedule – & pay for - the official visit. But it has finally happened! Sewing school alumnae participated in the ceremonies, inspiring the class. Thank you to all who have given machines!!!

On the Air!  

“The Green Hour” features environmental issues; the March 16 theme was “enough.” Elsie McKee was a guest talking about “enough” in the context of Congo. For the podcast, go to

Introducing Cheryl Ciaranca

I am a teacher at heart. Over my 38 year career I learned that young people are most inspired & energized when empowered to make a difference in the world. In 2006 I located a teacher & founder of a non-profit organization in a remote village of DRC. Together we started an email program to connect students from a world of iPods & smart phones with those who paid to use computer time miles from their home. This was the beginning of Hands Across the Water (H.A.W.) & the start of a personal journey that continues to be one of the most enlightening and educational experiences of my lifetime.

What began as children writing to friends in Congo in Kaboke Elementary School & Pembas Academy of Munene, evolved naturally into inspired children wanting to help. Members of H.A.W. have worked tirelessly to raise funds to send T-shirts, shoes, books, & school supplies. In 2010 H.A.W began to provide tuition, school fees, uniforms & books for 5 “Starfish” the same age as our 8th grade students. H.A.W. has now supported 26 high school students at Pembas Academy of Munene. Our first 5 receive their diplomas this June! 19 more will graduate over the next 2 years.

Approaching retirement I realized that I could not turn my back on “my family” in Congo. My love & admiration for the resilience & faith of the people of Congo could not be a part of what I leave behind. Two years ago, a dear friend & fellow teacher introduced me to Dr. Elsie McKee & Woman Cradle of Abundance. Working with them gives me the chance to continue to help these brave people in their fight to emerge from the  poverty and violence of Congo.