DRC. Annuarité and her struggle after the violence she suffered
30-06-2023 | di COOPI

DRC. Annuarité and her struggle after the violence she suffered

Annuarité was not yet of age when she lost both her parents a few years ago. Left alone, she then finds herself carrying the child of a person she did not know and whom, after the violence she suffered, she never sees again. It was a member of CODECO, one of the rebel militias operating in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, who raped her in September 2022, when she had been 15 years old for a few months.

Just two months into my pregnancy, I met a member of the regular FARDC army,' she says, 'he was a good person and took care of me until I gave birth, helping me to manage the pregnancy. Seven months after the birth of my son, however, the soldier was transferred to a region I did not know, and at the age of 17, I found myself alone again, with a seven-month-old baby, orphaned of a father as I am orphaned of both parents, without any material, financial or moral support. I realised that I had to fight, alone, for my son”.

Then, one day, Annuarité met COOPI, which, thanks to the project “Integrated Multi-Sector Emergency Assistance in Nutrition and Child Protection for the Population Affected by the Humanitarian Crisis in Central Djugu”, running from September 15, 2022 to November 30, 2023 and financed by the United Nations Humanitarian Fund, was able to support her in her struggle.

One day I attended an awareness session on gender-based violence run by the COOPI NGO facilitators in our area... While they were talking, I identified with what they were saying and so I told them about my situation. Then I went to register with one of their field agents afterwards and ten days later, to my surprise, I received a visit from the COOPI team who had come to verify my situation”.

A few days later COOPI visited Annuarité again, this time bringing her a financial assistance of $ 45 and other commonly used items such as clothing and underwear, hygiene products such as soap, cream, toothbrush and toothpaste, and food such as milk, bread and sugar.

I enrolled in psychological counselling with a COOPI specialist, because I need to stay positive and after reflection I decided to invest the money I received from COOPI in a small business, which consists of buying small items and reselling them in retail outlets to meet my and my son's minimal needs”.

Supporting women victims of gender-based violence, in a country torn apart by conflict and where rape is often a weapon of war, is one of the cornerstones of the Humanitarian Fund-funded project. So, finally calm, Annuarité tells us the evolution of her story, which she, she is keen to say, can still get better.

All this, - she says, - is happening while my son and I are waiting for the opportunity to train as a hairdresser or dressmaker. I don't want to waste the chance I've been given and I want to take care of my child steadily. Today I am really overwhelmed with joy and would like to say a big thank you to COOPI and the donors of the humanitarian fund”.

COOPI has been present in the Democratic Republic of Congo since 1977, and key areas of intervention include protection activities aimed at women and children survivors of violence, projects against forced recruitment of children into armed groups, and support for survivors of gender-based violence.