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Author Cinama
Programme graduate in the DRC
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My name is Cinama

Cinama is 26 years old, from the village of Nyangezi in South Kivu, in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

After graduating from Women for Women International’s programme in 2016, she became a brickmaker and now runs a successful brickmaking business. She is also employed by Women for Women International as one of our vocational trainers, teaching other women in her community how to make bricks. This is Cinama’s story.

Cinama, a Women for Women International programme graduate from the DRC. Photo: Ryan Carter
Cinama, a Women for Women International programme graduate from the DRC. Photo: Ryan Carter

"My father died when I was three years old. I don’t remember his face.

Our land was given to my father’s brother, since none of my brothers were old enough to inherit. My mother lost everything. She was left to bring up 7 children with no source of food or income.

We had one meal a day and my mother worked so hard in other people’s fields to support us, but there was never any money to save, or pay for our school fees.

Cinama, a Women for Women International programme graduate in the DRC. Photo: Ryan Carter
Cinama, a Women for Women International programme graduate in the DRC. Photo: Ryan Carter

I missed the first enrollment in my village, but then I saw some other women coming back from the training centre and they were praising the programme.

The training programme was practical and helpful. I leaned different topics such as economic empowerment and how to be financially self-reliant, women rights, saving in a group, and decision-making. I chose brickmaking as my vocational skill.

The most important topic I learned about was women’s rights. I wanted to change things, because my mother was a victim, she couldn’t inherit land just because she was a woman.

I started my own brick-making business just after I graduated from the programme, in 2016.

I also formed a business collective with a group of other women. Every 6 months, we divide up our profits between each of the members.

I can’t stop thanking Women for Women International for what they have done in my life.

My family is extremely poor, and I am the only one who can support them.

I have built a house, I can provide food for my mother, sisters and brothers. I’m even able to support my sister’s children after she was abandoned by her husband. I pay their school fees and take care of their medical bills.

Today, I own land valued at $1000, as well as my brickmaking workshop and production site. In my community, it is rare for a woman to be a property owner, but I am proud of being an owner among men.

Women for Women International were looking for skilled women to become vocational trainers. My business group proposed me, and I was selected from among three others.

 

Cinama now trains women like Nankafu, pictured above, in brickmaking. Photo: Ryan Carter
Cinama now trains women like Nankafu, pictured above, in brickmaking. Photo: Ryan Carter

I am proud of being able to teach other women – even women who are older than me. They believe I can help them to change their life.

When they ask me questions on how they can improve their skills and generate more revenue, it shows that they trust me. I have no room for error when 50 women consider me as their model in the community.

My dream for the future is to follow the steps of Women for Women International…I believe one day I will create my own organisation that will support women in difficulty."

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