Efforts by Perle Noir – or Black Pearl – to improve conditions for children and women in the Congolese city of Bukavu are being stepped up thanks to support from the Kavli Trust.
This small organisation was founded in 2009 by Jessica Mushosi Kiil, who now lives in Norway but hails from Bukavu, where the surrounding area is among the hardest-hit by 20 years of war in eastern Congo.
Families there must pay to educate their children, and many find this impossible. When Kiil was a resident, she and her family met the school bills for a number of youngsters.
After a personal tragedy in 2009, she decided to help children in Bukavu achieve a better future and began paying the fees of 50 boys and 50 girls. Perle Noir has subsequently continued to grow.
“We launched a sewing project in January 2015 to provide training and hopefully a means of livelihood for 10 selected women,” reports Kiil.
“Several of them have many children of their own and no resources, but have nevertheless looked after orphaned and disadvantaged youngsters.”
The women receive six months of education and, providing they complete the course satisfactorily, have the opportunity to keep the sewing machine they trained on. After a very successful first course, the women all kept their machine and can now earn their own living. Support from the Kavli Trust will allow the project to continue and be upgraded.
The school project will also be expanded and continued after Perle Noir and the trust entered into an agreement on collaboration.
A third goal is to establish an agriculture programme during 2016 in the Bukavu area, which used to yield big harvests of such crops as maize, cassava, potatoes, beans and bananas.
After the war, many had to flee their farms and are now returning to find the land has lost its productivity. The women want to start again, but need knowledge and support. So Perle Noir wants to bring in experts to assess the most sustainable solutions. The aim is to educate and build up entrepreneurial skills among women in the village of Warungu.
During 2016, the organisation will also be investigating the opportunities for starting its own centre in Bukavu with a school for children, sewing workshop and agricultural education.
Read more about perlenoir here.