Kindu, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Yellow Flower Foundation funding in November 2010 was spread across 30 microfinance and educational projects including helping victims of HIV/AIDS, abandoned and vulnerable women, widows, and setting up enterprises such as sales of cake, bread, manioc flour, grilled banana, palm oil, artisanal soap, firewood, salt, and small restaurants and cafes.

We came across the tireless work being done by ONG UMAMA, headed by M. Albertine, in the city of Kindu, in central-eastern Congo, on the banks of the Congo River. We worked with renowned war photographer Heidi Bradner, who had visited the area and met Albertine while on assignment.

Heidi explained that UMAMA worked in an area on the banks of the Congo River that had suffered a lot in the war. Many civilians fled to the forests for safety, surviving by foraging for bananas and other foods.  As women do a lot of the food gathering, many of them were captured and raped, held prisoner and forced to work as cooks and cleaners. UMAMA was founded to assist some of the most vulnerable women who suffered from the war in Congo or from discrimination in general. In some instances, their husband’s family took their homes away from these women, because she was now a widow or because the husband left, if she had been raped.  UMAMA supports women through microcredit programs. The women come up with the proposals, based on their skills, talent and ideas and UMAMA funds them for some capital investments, such as a sewing machine, a brick oven and raw supplies. The loan is paid back slowly and consistently. Some are seamstresses, some start to bake bread as a business. UMAMA also provides counseling and so forth and a support group for these women.


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