Let me tell you about this amazing woman, Cathy Cleary from Kingston, Ontario.
A few years back, Cathy went on a trip to DRCongo and saw the hardship of the people living there.
The DRCongo has been at war since 1998. The violence continues today. And women and children had been its biggest victims. The ones that managed to survive, endured atrocities too huge for most of us to consider.
Even the best of us would find this overwhelming, as did Cathy.
But she had a thought that kept replaying in her head,
“Once you know something you can no longer retreat into the abyss of unconsciousness. Awareness must provoke action…”
She knew she had to do “something”.
She believed, in order for the Congolese women to have any hope, they needed income-generating opportunities to bring stability; as well they needed a chance at health and medical care.
As you can well imagine, a Herculean task lay before her.
There was the language barrier, the red tape, the lack of resources. Add to that the women had severe trauma from the violence of war, along with severe medical issues. ( many of the women and their children are living with HIV)
But with her quiet, fiercely determined way, Cathy mobilized women (mostly from Kingston) to help. By May 2014, The Tschukudo Women’s Training Centre opened. 16 Canadian women generously sponsored 16 Congolese Women to learn the trade of becoming a seamstress.
(Here are some of the gang. Cathy is in the blue-striped shirt)
Now let’s just say here, if you want to do something, there are many hiccups and mistakes along the way.
Cathy and her team made big mistakes in the first year. They had to motivate women to actually come. So few had any hope left. On a basic level, they had to feed them on the days of their training. How can anyone learn if they are starving? So, she and her team kept adjusting and modifying the centre as they went along, making certain that the women had agency over their decisions.
And, as of Nov 2019, the centre has graduated 57 women in the tailoring and seamstress business. And they don’t just do the training and leave. They are supported to learn new skills like tie-dying and microfinancing- things they need to know for running a business.
Check out what she does here!
“If we want to save the world, we must make women equal citizens. ( Sally Armstrong, Canadian journalist and Activist)
The other challenge of an undertaking like this is keeping it sustainable. And like anyone who has run a not- for- profit, the fundraising is relentless. But this is one of the cases where a little can do a lot!
( Just to give perspective 75 dollars can buy 4 months of HIV drugs.)
If you can’t go to this event, perhaps consider a donation here!
Yes, Cathy is an amazing woman. But so are you! ( ok, an amazing person)
No matter what you have you can give! You can give help, give your energy, your time or your money! All are equal in value, for its the small things that we do on a daily basis that add up!
We can’t fix, everything. But we can fix something.
If you know of an amazing woman you’d like me to write about please send me an email!
February 2nd JCB Toronto- Downward Facing Broad ( Tickets on sale Dec 15)
Feb 8th 2019 Bowen Island. Downward Facing Broad. ( Tickets on sale here)
March 26th, 2019 in Exeter, Ontario. Downward Facing Broad. Hospice ( Tickets on sale soon)
April 4th, 2019 Regent Theatre, Picton ( Tickets on sale Dec 8th)
April 26th, 2019 Midland Arts Centre. ( Tickets on sale, soon)
May 4th, 2019 Octave Theatre Kingston. Downward Facing Broad (Tickets on sale Dec 10th)