The disastrous socioeconomic situation and the lack of respect for the rights of women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo could explain the rural exodus and the migration to the major cities of the country.

In fact, Congolese women who are illiterate or who do not go to school in rural areas or where there are armed conflicts very soon find themselves obliged to assume all the family responsibilities and to satisfy the basic needs of their husbands and children. In order to accomplish this, some are obliged to work hard in mining areas, others on plantations for little recompense, and others are forced to prostitute themselves. This deplorable situation makes many of them choose the way of rural exodus, of economic and social exile, because they are tired of bearing the entire burden, of being without any financial resources or of being a sexual object for the chiefs in the areas of armed conflict.

The first destination for the women who have fled from their villages due to poverty or armed conflict is the large city of Kinshasa. However, this city is already overpopulated, and the wave of migration from the villages to the unstable districts of the capital of the RDC continues to grow and to cause tension between the long-term residents and the recently arrived. This can result in an atmosphere of conflict, which is conducive to juvenile delinquency and violation of human rights.

Unfortunately, the government’s social structures cannot take care of all the recent arrivals, who suddenly find themselves alone. Therefore, each one of these women is still forced to struggle to survive.

In order to give a loving response to the cries of the women, the Madre Pilar Social Center, since its creation in 2003, has as its objective to offer these girls and women commonly known as “mamas” a human, professional, intellectual and spiritual formation for a period of three years.

In the last two years, the Center has experienced an evolution related to the that of our current society. Those who attend the training are younger girls whose ages vary between 14 and 25. They are illiterate, they are desperate, discouraged with life, and at the same time they are victims… but they are also full of hope, willing to struggle, and with the support of the Center, they can earn a living and reverse the course of a history that was apparently hopeless. This situation represents a new challenge, and in the face of this challenge, what can we do? To what creativity are we called? What reparative answers can we give to ensure that each one of these girls may receive a comprehensive training? All these questions challenge us in more ways than one.

The Center helps them to acquire additional skills to improve the conditions of their lives and their own development. In other words, this Center becomes synonymous with openness to reality, that is, to be always seeking, ready to change its organization and open itself to the NEW.

Arriving at the Center also means opening the mind and the heart to discover new resources within themselves, which will allow them to develop activities that will raise money in order to better meet their daily needs.

Since September of 2018, we have been welcoming these girls and women in our community in the city of Mpumbu after having done so for 15 years in Kindele. Today, the impact of the quality of training that we offer these women is perceptible. They are proud of the formation they have received, of having gained a positive self-image, of escaping the trauma and of resisting the calls of illegal immigration to Europe or to Angola.

We must continue to support the efforts that are being made in our center so that these women and girls, after being trained, can become examples of local success for others.

Julie Bibeme, aci