The Women Rising Legacy Project, which began as an idea in the Spring of 2016, became a reality in 2017, thanks, in part, to support from Rebellious Dreamers (a Michigan based nonprofit), which provided necessary initial resources (advising and seed capital) to turn this dream into reality. We are still an all-volunteer entity, but now have a solid team based both in the U.S. and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). We have established the organizational framework and processes and conducted a small fundraising campaign to build initial infrastructure. The process to fully launch Women Rising is a long-term undertaking, despite the needs being so great and so immediate. The extreme level of poverty and the long-standing systemic barriers to creating change in such a unique and beautiful country are daunting challenges to address. While we expected to be further along at this point, we are thrilled to be getting closer to realizing our initial objectives.
- Developed and translated Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation for establishing Women Rising as a nonprofit in the DRC. Once we raise sufficient funds, these will go to a DRC attorney for final editing and submittal to the government.
- Purchased 1 hectare of partially wooded land from the tribal council based in the village of Kipopo to be the Women Rising farm. This was an exciting achievement because of the challenging logistics and complicated legal system in effect in the DRC – a fluid combination of formal and customary law and language.
- Engaged Kasuu N Becky as our in-country Lead. For the last three years, she has overseen implementation of work on the ground, including deep relationship building in Kipopo
- Hired Mulaj, a local man, to regularly patrol the Women Rising hectare. We bought him a pair of boots and provided a bicycle for transport to/from the parcel and a scythe to clear the path around the perimeter.
- Conducted a fundraising campaign that raised over $11,000 to build a fence around the farm, so that women can be there safely and the land and crops can be protected.
- Completed a significant portion of the fence. Check out the photos! The final stage of installation is underway as of this update.
- Planned a mini-pilot research project – the precursor to launch of the full hectare farming operation. Women from 3 villages nearest the farm will help us learn the challenges and opportunities offered by the soil, climate, and traditional practices and crops, as well as for integrating new crops and practices, such as low-technology irrigation and solar food drying.
- Revamping of the Women Rising website. This is currently underway (behind the scenes). Check back soon to take part in our fundraising to conduct the mini-pilot!
In January of 2019, when Mulaj was away for a family emergency, the owner of a neighboring
parcel sent his workers onto the Women Rising hectare to begin clearing trees for mining. This
neighbor had purchased 120 hectares from a colleague who had described the purchase as including the WR hectare. Nearly three-quarters of the trees were cut before Kasuu and villagers discovered the trespass. Kasuu was able to halt the action, and, with great diligence, support from the chief and village, and the use of her connections, successfully secure governmental confirmation of WR ownership. While the neighbor has acknowledged the mistake, he has made no move to compensate. At least two positive outcomes have arisen from this incident, however:
1) We were pushed to focus first on building the fence, which is positioning us to safely launch next steps of the project; and
2) The Women Rising Project now enjoys high regard from and a firm alliance with the tribe and the village of Kipopo – foundational aspects of a successful and sustainable organization.
Thanks for visiting our Progress Page. Please check back again soon for more news!