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A nurse, a teacher, and a mother: How communities in the DRC are holistically transformed

A core aspect of Plant With Purpose’s work is to find holistic solutions for change. We work in places where ordinary people face a myriad of challenges, but solutions are only sustainable and effective when we take into account the way they are connected to one another.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) demonstrates the intersectional nature of issues like poverty, health, and the environment. These items are also intertwined with the ongoing conflicts that have the country in a volatile state. DRC registers some of the highest poverty rates, the highest scores of climate vulnerability, and low scores around the quality of education. These challenges contribute to one another, where the worsening of one item leads to the worsening of another.

Finding holistic solutions for positive change in DRC

As overwhelming as that dynamic can be, the good news is that these items can be addressed at the same time through holistic solutions. When they are, they lead to cascading benefits that are felt throughout the community in different areas, such as health, the environment, and education.

Those who are most familiar with this possibility are those who are closest to the community: teachers, nurses, and mothers.

We had the chance to hear from some of these community members recently.

Poverty remains a central concern in DRC

Pendeza lives in the Kambekulu watershed of DRC. “I am married with two children. I am a farmer, and I live with my husband,” she introduces.

Working mothers are the backbone of communities in DRC, and they carry out the majority of agricultural activities that make up the local economy. Unhealthy farms are a symptom of climate change, and they allow poverty to persist.

farmers embracing holistic solutions for their community

“We had a big challenge with our farm. We could not produce enough. We could not produce enough crops to consume in our household, let alone having extra to save or sell,” shares Pendeza. 

Her challenge is the reason why Plant With Purpose equips community members with Farmer Field Schools and environmental training as holistic solutions.

“One day I decided to put my plot to better use. I sought the help of an environmental technician who told me to improve my soil using compost. I adopted the technique and used it to fertilize my land.”

This had a visible impact.

“A few months later, I started using a double dug garden bed to farm onions and other vegetables. I realized that this increased my productivity. That let me bring in more income to pay for basic family needs. We applied other techniques like rock barriers and living fences to the rest of our farm, and we saw them improve significantly, especially our soil.”

Holistic solutions produce a cascading effect for community members

Your support enabled a nurse to put his talents to use.

“Five years ago, I earned my diploma in nursing. However, I could not find work anywhere in Luberizi. There were no vacant positions,” explains Mwenda.

The infrastructure for healthcare in eastern DRC is critically low, resulting in mismanaged chronic illnesses, low life expectancy, and high childhood mortality. The inability for a trained nurse to find a way to apply his skills is a tragedy.

“My wife and I decided that we would start to focus our earnings on farm production. Unfortunately, we could not produce enough food to feed our family while having some left over to generate income. This was such a challenge for our family, and we were running out of ways to support ourselves.”

Thankfully, through your support and the training of our local team, Mwenda was able to find his path back to nursing through holistic solutions.

“Three years ago, I joined the Plant With Purpose program in Luberizi, and I started saving money in the group. They elected me to serve as secretary, so in one year, I earned enough to start buying medical supplies and selling them around my village.

holistic solutions help a nurse help their community

“Because of my education, a lot of people came to my pharmacy. I was only operating it out of a small room in my house, but we had plans to expand. My wife joined another Purpose Group in Luberizi, and we began saving our money together. It was a new habit for our family.

“We increased our savings and bought many products, which supplied the majority of our community with medicine. Now that I have expanded my business and begun treating people, the community and whole watershed are proud of me. I received a certificate from our regional Ministry of Health to open a small clinic. 

“I am so happy to be at this level, and I hope that next year I will also be able to open another small clinic, knowing that I have the full support of my community and its leaders.”

The classroom as a line of defense against conflict.

Some of the most prolific problems facing communities in eastern DRC is the reality of conflict. Violence is an unfortunate norm at both a national and local level, and many residents find it difficult to escape its pervasiveness. Tragically, the effects of these social divisions can even be felt in classrooms, as a disruption to learning.

“Before Plant With Purpose was introduced to Kiliba, the social situation at our schools was not good,” shares Edison, a senior headteacher in the Kiliba watershed. “It was still marked by conflicts, both between ethnic groups and individuals. The hatred and divisions among students escalated into several fights. This plagued both our particular school and our entire region.

“As part of the partnership between our school and Plant With Purpose, our teachers and students have been receiving training. To help equip the students with knowledge, every Saturday the school draws inspiration from a module that instructs on love, forgiveness, and work. Today, the effects of those lessons can be seen. There is a visible difference in the relationships between students and teachers also.

“We are so grateful for Plant With Purpose. In addition to the harmony in relationships, the students are experiencing a sense of satisfaction from a job well done and a greater appreciation of nature. This leads to them taking on efforts like planting more trees every year within the school grounds. On behalf of the school, we are so grateful to the supporters of Plant With Purpose, and we look forward to learning even more themes in our local schools.”

Peace is not to be taken for granted in DRC, but your support has enabled participants like Edison to be agents of peace by fostering harmony in the circles right around him. 

It can be easy, in the face of horrific headlines and staggering statistics from DRC, to lose hope. But peace and abundance are created one life at a time through holistic solutions, and the impact of your support on the lives of Edison, Mwenda, and Pendeza is a testament to how things can change and create a ripple effect throughout society. 

Thank you for investing in a better future for families in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

About the Author

Plant With Purpose seeks to restore hope by reversing two of the world’s greatest challenges: global poverty and environmental damage. These problems are interconnected.

Our goal is to see creation’s life-giving regenerative cycles restored and people renewed through their relationship to God, living in healthy sufficiency and empowered to dream.

We operate in eight countries around the world. Our international work is 100% locally-led, with global offices operating both as independent agencies within their country, and alliance partners with Plant With Purpose U.S., which supports their ongoing work.

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