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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact 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.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs