Vision and Mission
Our Vision: The eradication of systemic poverty and violence against women and girls in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Our Mission: To help Woman, Cradle of Abundance empower women and girls in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in their fight against violence and poverty through education, counseling, medical and support services, and economic independence.
Because the problems of crippling poverty and violence against women are complex and far-reaching, the approach of Woman, Cradle of Abundance is multifaceted and growing.
- Economic Empowerment - When a woman has the means to support herself and her family, she not only has the dignity of a secure place in her community, she also has the means to educate her children. When she can save for a rainy day, she is not at the mercy of disaster.
Women in the community asked Maman Monique to start a sewing school – which is now located in her home. There students learn a marketable trade and are able to pay their opportunity forward to their children. They learn the basics of sewing by hand, then master the use of a manual or treadle sewing machine and designing clothing.
Most women never have a bank account, but they can bring their little earnings ($1-$5) to the monthly gatherings of Woman, Cradle of Abundance where each member can have her own micro-savings book. Small groups of women also benefit from a micro-loan program when funds are available.
- Community Support - Monthly gatherings give women and girls the opportunity to share their stories, worship, and boldly envision an altered future for themselves and their communities. There are also workshops where women learn methods for improved hygiene, micro-finance, and other practical skills.
- Literacy and Human Rights - Many women and girls who come to Woman, Cradle of Abundance are illiterate; most have at best the equivalent of a sixth grade education. Woman, Cradle of Abundance provides these women with further education. Particularly these women gain new perspectives on their human rights in their context and realize that they have choices in dealing with domestic violence, forced early marriage, and other challenges.
- Counseling and Refuge - Survivors of rape and forced prostitution find regular counseling and support. Some women and girls need a safe place and currently live with President Maman Monique or other members. The new Women’s Center will not only provide appropriate privacy for counseling but also be able to shelter more women and girls.
- Medical Care - Woman, Cradle of Abundance assists rape survivors in obtaining medical care. Some women have contracted HIV/AIDS from unfaithful spouses or from time spent in forced prostitution. The staff encourages testing, provides necessary medical treatment and follow-up appointments, and the regular nourishing meals that are necessary for HIV/AIDS medication to be effective. They also work to educate about the disease.
- Children’s Education – Education is not free in Congo. Many orphans and children of widowed mothers lack the means for school fees, uniforms, and supplies. Woman Cradle of Abundance helps the children of members as far as its limited funds allow.
Femme Berceau de l’Abondance (FEBA) began in 1999 when an ecumenical Christian group of women from various regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo gathered in response to the systemic poverty and violence against women and girls in the DRC. FEBA, the French acronym translated “Woman, Cradle of Abundance,” was born and has grown over the years, implementing a multifaceted approach to tackle complex and systemic problems of violence and poverty, and to empower women and girls to effect widespread, grassroots change.
Elsie McKee, a history professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, was born and reared in the West Kasai province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. For many years she has supported various educational and medical projects in the Kasai, including teaching there short-term. She became personally acquainted with Monique Misenga Mukuna and her work in the capital city of Kinshasa in 2008. When the African-initiated nonprofit FEBA entered its second phase in 2010, Elsie visited Monique and some of her close colleagues, connecting FEBA with a partner nonprofit ROW Congo-Kasai. The following year Elsie returned to begin documenting FEBA's story; interviewing founders and members and visiting various activities to be able to share these women's amazing journeys with her students and other North Americans.
In 2012 Shari Oosting attended a presentation about FEBA's work at a local church. Already having an interest in women's issues in the DRC, she reached out to Elsie to see if her background in finance might be useful. They began the process of officially organizing a North American partner for FEBA Congo. Sandy Larson had been interested in working with African women, especially since a visit to Kenya. When she learned of the plans to organize FEBA she enthusiastically signed on. Sandy initially served as the Director of Operations and Secretary. The Rev. Sandy has since moved to the northwest where she has been called as pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Dallas, Oregon. We are sorry to bid her good-by and offer our warm thanks for all her contributions to the launching of Woman, Cradle of Abundance!
When it comes to women and girls, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s history has been tragic. Though the problems are overwhelming, they need not be immobilizing. Our passion is to tell the stories of amazing women working there, and to support their efforts to change the future by empowering women and girls. Elsie serves as FEBA,Inc’s International Liaison and President. Changing life circumstances (graduations, new babies) have led to changes in the board and officers. We are very happy to have Cheryl Ciaranca as treasurer and Anna de Groot as secretary. Cheryl also serves as Community Outreach Coordinator.
Why the Democratic Republic of the Congo?
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is considered one of the worst places in the world to be a woman, and has the unfortunate designation of being labeled the “rape capital of the world” by the United Nations, with nearly one in ten women having been raped. While war rages in parts of the country, it is young girls, mothers, and grandmothers who suffer at the hands of militants and husbands alike.
Based in the capital city of Kinshasa, Woman, Cradle of Abundance provides a community where women gather to share their stories and envision breaking the cycle of poverty and violence. Research has proven that women who are educated and economically empowered are liberated to effect grassroots, widespread social change. The organization supports a sewing school where girls learn a marketable trade, enabling them to earn a living wage, support a family, and educate their children – both daughters and sons. The Congolese staff educates the women in literacy, human rights, and micro-finance. They provide medical care and support for women and children living with HIV/AIDS; there is counseling for survivors of rape and forced prostitution. They supply school uniforms and tuition fees for destitute children.
Woman, Cradle of Abundance embodies the hope that the future of the DRC can be brighter than the past. Because the problems of systemic poverty and violence against women are many and complex, the approach is multifaceted and growing. Woman, Cradle of Abundace (also known as FEBA, its French acronym) embraces women as catalysts for change and abundant hope in one of the world's most dangerous places to be a woman.
Who We Are
Femme Berceau de l’Abondance (FEBA) Congo - Officers
Monique Misenga Mukuna – President
Bitota Angelique Ngoyi - Treasurer
Agnes Anakumba Umadjela – Treasurer Emerita
Marie-Jeanne Kapinga Kawuya – Secretary Emerita
Antoinette Muleka Tshisuaka – Director of Medical Care
Henriette Kibadi Nzeyi – Medical Care
Denise Ngome-Sakisa – Pastoral Counselor
FEBA, Inc. North America - Officers
Elsie McKee - International Liaison and President
Anna de Groot - Secretary
Cheryl Ciaranca - Community Outreach Coordinator and Treasurer
FEBA, Inc. North America - Board of Directors
Dr. Elsie McKee, the Archibald Alexander Professor of Reformation Studies and the History of Worship at Princeton Theological Seminary, is known as a historian of the 16th century. She has published books and articles on John Calvin, Katharina Schütz Zell, and Reformation worship; she has studied and taught in Europe and Congo as well as the United States, and lectured in various places around the world. She has long been involved with educational and medical projects in Congo, where she was born and reared. These include the Presbyterian University (Kasai), United Front Against Riverblindness, the North American Liaison Bureau of the Université Protestante au Congo (Kinshasa).
Shari Oosting works as the Program Administrator at Princeton Theological Seminary’s Institute for Youth Ministry. She worked for seven years in the banking sector, including personal banking, business banking and lending. She is active in small group ministry and education at her church, Nassau Presbyterian Church in Princeton, NJ. She spends as much time as she can outside with her husband Jason and two sons, Asher and Ezra, and daughters Elia and Ada.
Anna de Groot
A native of Lincoln, Virginia, Anna relocated to Princeton, New Jersey, to study at Westminster Choir College where she received a Masters of Music in Piano Accompanying and Vocal Coaching. She now serves on the piano faculty at Westminster Conservatory and this fall was named the new Accompanist for the American Boychoir. Anna delights in teaching and making music, and is honored to serve as a board member for FEBA.
Gordon's background is as a lawyer and business development executive. He was Vice President of the Digital Media Group at Beliefnet. Before that, Gordon served as Vice President of Business Development at Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM). Gordon began his business development career at Real Networks as Senior Director of Business Development Media Programming. Prior to moving to the corporate world, Gordon was a partner at Pantaleoni Govens and Wise. He holds a BA in Philosophy from Swarthmore College, a Juris Doctor from Fordham University School of Law, and his Masters of Divinity and Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary. Gordon is currently a PHD candidate at Princeton Theological Seminary. History of the Christian Church is his area of discipline study with a focus on the Protestant Reformation.
While a teacher at Community Middle School, Cheryl founded Hands Across the Water in 2006. The program began as an email program to connect students from a world of ipods and smart phones with those who paid to use computer time miles from their homes. Since then, members have worked tirelessly to raise funds to provide tuition, school fees, supplies, books and clothing for students in Congo. Presently HAW is also managing a micro loan program in Uvira, providing employment in a struggling economy. Approaching retirement, Cheryl realized that she could not turn her back on her “family” in Congo. In 2013 Cheryl was led to Dr. Elsie McKee and Woman, Cradle of Abundance. Working with the organization gives Cheryl a chance to continue her work helping the brave people of Congo to emerge from the poverty and violence enveloping them. Cheryl is the Community Outreach Coordinator for Woman, Cradle of Abudance.
Karen was introduced to Dr. McKee and FEBA in 2012 when Elsie and others began the process of organizing a North American partner for FEBA Congo. Her husband, Christo, who serves on the board of United Front Against Riverblindness with Elsie, was working on the website for Woman, Cradle of Abundance and Karen was overly critical of his work to the point where he told her to just design it herself. The rest, as they say, was history, and Karen has been lending her expertise in user experience and design to Woman, Cradle of Abundance's online initiatives ever since. In her professional life, Karen works as an interaction designer at BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager, which sounds more impressive than it is, because Karen doesn't actually "make the money," she just enables the people that do. In her personal life, Karen used to have hobbies, but is now a new mother to a little boy named Andries, who has taken over all of her free time.
Beverley Williams is a librarian by profession, and an active leader in her church and friend to Congo women by choice. Originally from Jamaica, she has worked at Union Theological Seminary and at Princeton Theological Seminary library for many years and is currently the Collection Management Coordinator for library acquisitions. Bev heard about Woman Cradle of Abundance from friends at the seminary and became involved as a volunteer in 2014. Her enthusiasm and her joy in sharing news about FEBA are contagious; recent opportunities to get to know Maman Monique and Maman Antoinette have been highlights of this year.