Here is a little bit about our leaders and why we do what we do:
I fled the Congo on Sept. 23, 1997, followed by my husband and six children (ages 3 and 11 at the time) 20 months later. My work as an attorney standing up for women’s rights put us in danger in the DRC, so we had no choice but to leave. We raised our family near Dallas, but our hearts stayed in the Congo. Ten years after we fled, a friend back in the Congo asked me why I had turned my back on my country. Why was I not helping Congo’s women and children.
So I went back.
I met with women who had been raped. My career had been fighting for women’s rights in a place where women have no rights. I visited women who were living in the very city where I was raised. And they asked about their children. So I went to the villages where their children were, Kanyole and Walungu (south of Kivu). And I found hundreds of children. Hundreds of orphans. I, too, was orphaned at a young age. I could not turn away so I took 30. Out of hundreds, I could take only 30. And I gave them a house, and I created a life for them.
These are my children, just as the six I gave birth to are my children. Because these are Congo’s children, they are my children. And Congo’s women are my women. I teach them to sew. I teach them skills so they will be more than the raped women of Congo.
My six children are now grown, the youngest a sophomore at SMU. They are living the so-called American dream. I am so happy for them. But that is not my dream. My dream is back with the women and children of Congo.
In 2013, my husband and I moved back to Bukavu, DRC. We are home, working every day — woman by woman, child by child — to restore Congo to the country it has every potential to be.
I am a freelance writer and mother to two teenaged boys. Working to give people in the developing world a chance to change their circumstances — whether through safe housing or education — is an important value my husband and I are trying to pass onto our sons. I first went to Africa in 2008 and, as I knew it would, the trip changed my world view. Since then, I have been involved in various ways in the DRC, Uganda, and Rwanda. I have seen the potential in this troubled continent and in its people. I believe that by empowering Africans — especially the women of Africa — Africans can turn their circumstances and their countries around. The people I have met in Africa, including Gorethy, are not defined by their circumstances. Though these circumstances are unimaginable to most Americans — war, rape, disease, a lack of education and basic structure — the women and children of the DRC are strong. They need power, not pity. I believe Congo Restoration’s focus on empowerment is the path to restoring this country, so rich in potential.
Clare Stein, treasurer/board of directors
Diana Dubois, member/board of directors
Kimberly Knight, member/board of directors
Pamela Pfautsch, member/board of directors: I am originally from Virginia Beach, Virginia, and I am a teacher at The Westwood School [a Dallas Montessori school]. I enjoy fundraising and lending my time to causes and events that can help in empowering others.
Bobbie Kerr, member/board of directors
Angelica Diomi, member/board of directors