Interactive Meeting with the Representative of the Refugee Women in order to generate ideas of the workplan 2024
The meeting which was chaired by our refugee focal point Habimana Charles, aimed at collecting the views of refugees which should be incorporated in the Strategic Plan which we are working on this year. The meeting started at 9:30 am and ended at 12h10 pm, and brought 30 refugee women representing six refugee women groups which we are supporting.
Introduction of the participants,
Review of last year
Focus for this year,
Issues at hand
The opening prayer was conducted by a volunteer, and the welcome remarks were done by the refugee focal point. He thanks those who came for the meeting and recognized the new group of refugee women are involved in Bakery activities. He also called upon the members to capitalize all opportunities we have for this year and work hard in order to move forward.
Participants introduced themselves and as usual, some had their first opportunity to interact with their fellow refugees for their first time. In the same meeting the new staff members of COJESKI North Kivu were introduced and requested the women to collaborate well with the team.
Minute Three: Review of last year
The Coordinator Mr. Kulihoshi Musikami Luc presented the security situation of last year whereby he pointed out how M23 rebels backed by Rwanda threatened seriously to capture Goma and this made us to stop the activities for a while, from January up to May 2023 the security situation in Goma was not good. This also forced us to stop all our weekly meetings with all refugees in Goma. It was also somehow difficult to really focus on you because we knew you were in difficult situation as you are the first target of M23 rebel group.
Generally our activities started very well in June and are continuing up to now. The evaluation of each activity was done and recommendations were formulated last year that is why we want again to engage you in order to see if there is something new but also to see if there is something to capture.
As organization we also worked with new people and in the process some did not show respect towards refugees despite all efforts made to share necessary information and guidance, we are aware that some of our staffs did not treat you with respect and dignity, this is one among the reasons we have new staff now. But also the organization struggled last year with the lack of office space and funding for all her activities. The office space was solve in September 2024 but funding is still a problem. We are also aware of demands from refugees which we were not able to satisfy and the need to help more people, we received various people among women who need held but we could not do much, we are aware that the support we are giving you was not enough in order to respond to your needs.
And lastly as you may know it already, the former Coordinator Jean Pascal Mugaruka stole some money in the Bank Account of the organization and disappeared with it since August 203 up to now, we do not know where he is hiding.
Minute Four: The situation for this year 2024
On the security level, so far this year has started in calm here in Goma and we have nothing much to worry about, so we have opportunity to focus on somethings, that is why we are now making this work plan. And we hope the security situation will improve in North Kivu during this year, as we have heard about the presence of SADC Forces which are already here in Goma. However in the Goma we observe different forms of insecurity which has claimed the lives of some people including two refugees in December 2023 among them one refugee women and one refugee man both killed in Goma. Being in the state of emergency gives the Military Authorities powers to impose certain unpopular measures and we need to abide with what has been put in place.
Here at the office, we are happy to inform you that now we have a space where refugees can easily meet and where they can organize their activities from, we are going to improve this space so that it can also accommodate parties for refugees, by the end of this month of January we shall make sure that we have 100 Plastic Chairs which shall be here and which refugees can use when they have any function, you just come here and we shall give you the chairs, on top of that we want to have Tents that can accommodate at least 200 people so that they can help you when you have any function especially when a refugee dies, we have seen how it is a problem. But also we want to have a transit space for new arrival asylum seekers and refugees who have nowhere to sleep, so far as per now, a refugee that has nowhere to stay can come and sleep here for a while as we wait for a solution. This Hall also has already Internet and we encourage refugees who have smart-phones to come and access internet from here.
Reaction: The participants clapped their hands and thanks the new team for the work that is being done, one participant exclaimed “this is the first in DRC and this is unique, at least now we have a home in Goma since 1994, may God bless you”.
On the issue of supporting the groups, yes recommendations where formulated last year aiming at two major things: Giving starting capital for small income generating activities to women who are members of the groups, and increasing the support to refugee women who were given the starting capital, more details on how to improve the projects were also shared.
This year 2024 we are going to put in place very first Network of refugee women in DRC which will work in collaboration with other refugee networks in the world, at the same time, we are putting in place a refugee football Team, and again restart the Music Dance and Drama (MDD) for refugees.
Suggestions from the participants
The refugee women who attended were so happy with these plans and pledge their strong support, however they also suggested various forms of trainings in Leadership, Adult Literacy Programme and Tailoring, the Computer Training and English Classes where among the suggestions. They also request us to advocate for them to access various Market Places in Goma and in this an idea of a weekly refugee market was suggested. We are going to see how best we can implement these actions. The participants also suggested to organize meetings among members of each group in order to focus on challenges they are facing in different groups. Some were concerned about the security of their things here at the offices as some things were missing, we are going to focus on that and ensure better management of all things at the offices. They also talked about water, tea, and snacks where they are in different activities here at the office. We shall look into that as we plan for this year.
Particular attention was put on refugee women and young girls’ victims of rape and all forms of sexual violence especially those who are suffering from stigma, diseases, living in bad conditions and are HIV positive.
Minute Five: A.O.B
Members shared information among themselves about those who died last year, those who are sick and those who are in difficult situation.
They also suggested to bring the services closer to them where they are living but we are not yet ready to do this because of the security problems in Goma, most of the areas are military operational zones.