“Now we can help develop our country”
Hortense Nzinga lives in Menkao, just outside the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s capital, Kinshasa. She is one of the women involved in Diakonia’s agricultural project. And she tells us what happens when women get access to money – everything changes.
Hortense has five children: 15, 5, 4, 3 and 2 years old. She lives with them and her husband.
“Our house is in a bad state and we don’t have the opportunity to renovate it. We need roofing, bricks and cement.”
The family has a small plot of land some distance away.
It’s hard to make life work. “We’re women farmers and we’re poor. We have small fields that require hard physical labour. We need more land so that we can grow to sell and get the chance to pay our children’s school fees,” she says.
Through Diakonia’s and partner organization Conafed’s project, Hortense has taken part in three courses.
They are about farming adapted to specific crops, how to work in the fields, how to sell and how to plan your finances. “We’ve learned a great deal,” she says and continues:
“Also, we asked for help with the work rather than tools. It’s really hard, farming the land by hand. That’s why we were given the funds to hire a tractor. And instead of seeds, we’ve been given cuttings so we can grow cassava. We’ll be planting them in November. We’re still waiting for the rain,” she says.
The project also allows Hortense to make improvements to her home.
“We get help to provide for ourselves and can then send our children to school, make enough food for the entire family and provide our children with basic healthcare.”
Hortense also feels that, through the project, she has risen in status among the men who have previously viewed her and other women as worthless.
“We haven’t had the opportunity to take responsibility because we haven’t had resources. The local powers have seen us as worthless. But now that they can see we have access to money, the men are realising that we have value. Now we can help develop our country.