Girls and Women

Did you know?

In DR Congo, studies show that 87.81 percent of male youth 15 years and older are literate , compared to a literacy rate of just 62.92 percent for young females.

The Problem

School Fees and Opportunity Costs-

Girls spend more time doing house chores and taking care of their siblings. Most enter early marriage so that the dowry price can pay school fees for their brothers or pay off family debts. It cost $85 a year for a girl to stay in school.

Girls spend more time doing house chores and taking care of their siblings. Most enter early marriage so that the dowry price can pay school fees for their brothers or pay off family debts. It cost $85 a year for a girl to stay in school.

School fees cost a mere $85 per year in Kandale. However, this is a lot of money for poor parents who are living below the poverty line, earning less than $1 per day. Many girls are forced into marriage so that the price of the dowry can help the family make ends meet or pay for school fees for male siblings. In 2017, close to 50 girls in the Kandale sewing program had their secondary school exit exam annulled. They lacked glue to put their patterns together. Most, like the one pictured here, have missed out on the only chance in life to get an education, and are now mothers. As they say, a pregnant woman in Africa has one leg in the grave. The cost of early marriages for girls who cannot afford school cannot be overemphasized.

Girls’ Dormitory -

The number of girls enrolling in secondary school in Kandale dropped considerably over the past few decades as the original dormitory buildings that date to 1955 have fallen apart.

The number of girls enrolling in secondary school in Kandale dropped considerably over the past few decades as the original dormitory buildings that date to 1955 have fallen apart.

High school girls from the surrounding areas require local lodging in order to attend school. The original dormitory, built in 1955, had fallen into disrepair and was no longer inhabitable. Girls had to stay with other families in Kandale or they would not otherwise be able to attend school. The downside is that the girls often were treated as househelp, and the chores got in the way of their school work and they became discouraged. In 2017, local REVE Kandale members used our new brickmaking machine to make bricks to repair two of the four dormitory buildings. As of early 2018, more than 50 girls had re-enrolled in school and were living in the two buildings, which were designed for 40. The overcrowding poses a problem, but it is encouraging to see so many girls enrolled – and we hope to rebuild the other two dorm buildings soon, adding more beds and furniture.

Renovated girls’ dormitory with 40 beds for 55 girls – 2017. The other two dormitory building remain in ruin.

Renovated girls’ dormitory with 40 beds for 55 girls – 2017. The other two dormitory building remain in ruin.

Hygiene Kits -

In 2017, REVE Kandale founder Colette Ramm delivered more than 300 reusable hygiene kits, courtesy of Days for Girls chapters in San Juan Capistrano, CA, Northern Virginia, and Rockville, MD.

In 2017, REVE Kandale founder Colette Ramm delivered more than 300 reusable hygiene kits, courtesy of Days for Girls chapters in San Juan Capistrano, CA, Northern Virginia, and Rockville, MD.

days for girls.jpg

Menstruation poses a big problem for many girls in rural African societies, and Kandale is no exception. It is a taboo subject that no one talks about, and the girls themselves have no means to cope with their monthly periods. So during the menstrual periods, girls are ashamed to attend classes so they miss important school time. In October 2017, with the help of the international nongovernmental organization, Days for Girls, REVE Kandale founder Colette Ramm delivered more than 300 female hygiene kits to girls in Kandale and conducted training over several days on how to use the kits. The kits include reusable sanitary pads. It is a start, but we still have a long way to go. Our goal is to have the girls at the Lycee begin to make their own sanitary pads with a view toward selling them in the community as a source of income.

Sewing Program -

Girls attend first training day in the new multi-purpose building, powered with solar-panels- October 2018

Girls attend first training day in the new multi-purpose building, powered with solar-panels- October 2018

A big reason the girls are coming back is the revitalized sewing program at Lycee Gin’a Gisanga.

With the help of many partners we were able to buy 40 sewing machines in Kinshasa and transport them to Kandale in October 2018. This means that the girls in the Lycee can now have practical training in sewing, which will provide them the necessary skills to go out and earn a living for their families. Before the arrival of the machines, the girls -- and boys who also take up sewing – learned only theory in school. For practical training, they were on their own to find someone in the community who could teach them for an additional fee.

The sewing machines are already having an enormous impact.

Before… A girl carries the school’s only sewing machine for 50 girls on her head.

Before…A girl carries the school’s only sewing machine for 50 girls on her head.

Now… Each girl has her own machine and table.

Now…Each girl has her own machine and table.

Solar Energy-

Before solar panels were brought to Kandale, teachers like Louis Konda, who teaches chemistry, had to prepare lessons at night using a flashlight.

Before solar panels were brought to Kandale, teachers like Louis Konda, who teaches chemistry, had to prepare lessons at night using a flashlight.

In October 2018, neighbors Dr. Karl Klontz and David Whitford of Bethesda, MD, traveled to Kandale to install solar-based lighting in two buildings. They installed the solar panels in the hospital maternity ward and in a new education building REVE Kandale built in 2018. These were the first two large buildings in Kandale to get lighting.  Before the installation, it was dangerous for a woman to have her baby during the night, and children had a difficult time studying after sunset. The solar panels and accompanying batteries now provide lighting at both buildings in Kandale. Staff at the maternity center can deliver babies under safer conditions. Lights at the education building allow students to study at night and residents to come together for meetings, social gatherings, and classes of different types. The board of Reve Kandale and the community of Kandale are deeply grateful for the contribution of Karl and David.

Solar panels arriving in Kandale

Solar panels arriving in Kandale

Dr. Klontz at work in Kandale

Dr. Klontz at work in Kandale

Light in the newly built education center

Light in the newly built education center

REVE Kandale: Journey to Kandale - video