News / Africa

    DRC’s Sister Angelique Helps Brutalized Women Heal

    Sister Angelique Namaika with one of the displaced women she works with in Dungu, DRC, July 10, 2013. (Hilary Heuler for VOA)
    Sister Angelique Namaika with one of the displaced women she works with in Dungu, DRC, July 10, 2013. (Hilary Heuler for VOA)
    A nun in the northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo has won one of the U.N.'s most prestigious awards for her work with displaced people and brutalized survivors of LRA attacks.  She has few resources at her disposal, but, Sister Angélique has helped thousands of displaced women.
     
    Suzy was 14 when she was captured.  She did not want to use her real name, but says she was in school when the Lord’s Resistance Army invaded her village and dragged her into the forest, where she would spend the next year and a half in captivity.
     
    “Life with the LRA was brutal,” she said. "I was given to a rebel soldier as a 'wife', and have been repeatedly beaten and raped. Food was scarce, they marched nearly every day and I was forced to help kill anyone who tried to escape."
     
    The LRA crossed the border from Uganda into this remote corner of the northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo in 2008.  Since then, kidnapping stories like Suzy’s have been common, and hundreds of thousands of people displaced.
     
    Suzy eventually escaped her captors after she had given birth to a child in the forest.  She made her way to the nearby town of Dungu, which was heaving with displaced people - most unemployed and desperate.
     
    But there her luck changed.  She met Sister Angélique Namaika, a Congolese nun who runs an organization for displaced women, and she learned to make pastries.  Soon Suzy began selling them door to door, earning enough to support her young son and even go back to school.
     
    "Women like Suzy need to be sought out by someone who can listen to their stories and help them heal.  When women are traumatized, the entire society is traumatized, because it is the women who are raising the next generation," said Sister Angélique.
     
    Over the past four years Sister Angélique’s organization, the Center for Reinsertion and Development Support, or CRAD, has helped nearly 2,000 displaced women and girls in Dungu recover from their experiences and learn skills they can use to support themselves.

    She runs classes on cooking, sewing, pastry making and literacy, as well as a community garden and a small orphanage.  In September, the United Nations gave Sister Angélique the Nansen Refugee Award for her work - one of the U.N.’s highest honors.
     
    But, she says, it has not been easy, especially since CRAD has almost no funding.  Sister Angélique travels around town on an old bicycle, and the half-dozen orphans she supports share her own small, three-room mud house.  Three of the infants sleep in her own bed.
     
    "Sometimes, I have to go door to door asking wealthy people and organizations for money.  But since funding is so uncertain, I also sells pastries, bread and produce to try to keep CRAD as self-sustaining as possible," she said.
     
    The women she works with say the money they make helps them buy food and medicine for their children, and plan for the future.  But Pascaline, who lost two children to the LRA, says the group classes at CRAD provide more than just an income.
     
    "Spending time with other displaced women makes them feel united and helps her forget the past. It is better to be together, sharing their joy in life," said Pascaline.
     
    In 2009, Sister Angélique visited the United States to plead the cause of Congo’s displaced people, speaking before the U.S. Congress and the United Nations.  She says she hopes she can help bring the LRA to an end, so that the mothers of both Congo and Uganda can take their children back.

    You May Like

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    What Take-out Food Reveals About American History

    From fast-food restaurants to pizza delivery, here's what the history of take-out food tells us about changes in American society

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Peter from: Lesotho
    September 30, 2013 8:31 PM
    Angelique is an amazing social worker/ humanitarian who needs, not only material and financial resources, but also a support system that can take her efforts to another level.

    by: Alex Kalutha Lambert from: Cape town R.S.A
    September 30, 2013 6:50 PM
    The U.S.A have always been the world's Police! They brought so many powerful leaders to an end such - Slowbodan Milosevic; Saddam Hussein; Osama Bin Laden; Muammar Gaddafi ect... Each of whom was too strong than Joseph Kony. Why don't they act as such towards Kony and his L.R.S and have him brought to deserved end? Or is there any difference between the crime against humanity happening in Syria in which they put too much interest, and the one happening in D.R.C? If not, then why are they so quite about the Lawlessness taking place in Africa?

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora