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)
TEXT SIZE - +
— 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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

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?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid