The Beginning – Chingwell Mutombu, Archer Christian and Kasuu Namusapan Becky officially launched the Women Rising Legacy Project in the Spring of 2017. It was a bold move – to employ a tiny, volunteer trans-national collaboration with the goal to establish a women-owned and governed NGO that provides secure land and opportunities for women to grow food in the poorest country in the world, a country in which women have little power and live at great risk. But, we have stuck with it, and now have news to report, albeit both good and challenging.

March 2018 – Last year, Women Rising Legacy Project purchased 1 hectare of partially wooded land from the village chief in charge of a small sector of the Katanga Province outside of Lubumbashi, the province’s largest city. This was an exciting achievement because of the challenging logistics and complicated legal system that is in effect in the DRC – a fluid combination of formal and customary law, in which Swahili is the common language and French, the official one.

There are very few mobile phones or bicycles in this poor area, but the communities are deeply linked, and news travels like wildfire, even when those sharing it are on foot. As a result, the Project is now well known, and we are building relationships and trust.

We hired Mulaj, a local man, to regularly patrol the Women Rising hectare. As is the case for so many in this country, he had no shoes or transportation, so we sent funds to provide him a pair of boots, a bicycle for transport to/from the parcel, and a scythe to clear the path around the perimeter.

Our biggest challenge began in January, during Mulaj’s absence for family health reasons. Men hired by a neighbor pursuing mining on his land cut down ¾ of the trees on the Women Rising parcel. While we have since determined that this was a matter of mistaken boundaries, Kasuu is jumping through hoops week after week to affirm Women Rising ownership, and securing any compensation is a pipe dream.

Our main goal now is to raise enough funds to build a fence to protect the hectare and the women who will farm there. Materials and labor are estimated to be $11,000. Please join us in taking this step by making a donation! All funds go directly to operations.

On a positive note, we have developed Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation for establishing Women Rising as a nonprofit in the DRC. These are currently being translated into French, after which, we will send them to our local Lubumbashi attorney for final edits and then submittal to the authorities.

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