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Congolese-led initiative aims to raise 1.2 million for women

HELPING HAND: Nurses in the Congo

CATAPULTING OFF the success of the first–ever #YellowSunday last June, 2017’s #YellowSunday, taking place on 18 June, aims to raise $1.2 million to support 1, 000 women living in conflict and post-conflict zones in Congo to train as nurses

Held globally every June, #YellowSunday is an annual, one-day, Congolese–led initiative dedicated to mobilising people across the globe, first, to wear something yellow in solidarity with Congolese women, their families, communities and country; second, to take a picture of their yellow outfit and upload it on social media to spread public awareness – and, for the first time this year, to donate £10; €10, $10 or whatever they can in aid of Congolese women living in conflict and post-conflict zones.

“Our ambition is quite big,” said 2017 #YellowSunday Convener and Miss Congo UK, Horcelie Sinda. “We want to help support, train and empower 10, 000 Congolese women in 10 key sectors of Congolese society over the next 10 years; starting with 1, 000 nurses,” added Sinda.

“Think of this as our attempt to help bend the arc of gender balance (especially given the scale and scope in which Congolese women have been brutalised in wars and conflicts that have tyrannised Congo) a little further toward gender justice,” explained Sinda.

With an estimated population of 77 million, Africa’s third largest after Nigeria and Ethiopia, Congo –– the former Belgian colony Joseph Mobutu renamed Zaire in 1971, Laurent Kabila baptised Congo in 1998 and the UN has labelled the worse place to be a woman –– only has 28,789 nurses; one of the lowest in the world.

EVENT: #YellowSunday 2017 takes place June 18

The situation is made worse by fighting and mass displacement that killed over 5.4 million Congolese between 1998 and 2008 and left more wounds on the bodies of Congolese women than on the streets and buildings of that country.

According to statisticians, 45, 000 Congolese continue to die each month (half of them small children) due to conflicts, and preventable diseases such as malaria, cholera, typhoid and tuberculosis –– making the need to improve Congo’s ability to fight treatable diseases all the more urgent.

“Training a nurse in Congo costs on average $400 a year or $1, 200 for a full course over three years,” explained Sinda. “Which means we need $1.2 million for the 1, 000 Congolese women we want to support; and whilst this sum may seem considerable, it should be compared to the cost of training one nurse over three years in the UK, which is approximately £50,000,” added Sinda.

“This is more than a fundraising. This is a political act because in Congolese mythology, yellow symbolises wealth – and the greatest wealth Congo has is its women, the backbone Congolese society, whose suffering seem to go unnoticed,” she continued.

“By going yellow – or encouraging others to go yellow, she explained, you are joining a community of campaigners and extraordinary people across the globe adding their voices to those of Congolese women calling for justice to protect their families and communities; opportunities to help improve their country’s ability to fight treatable diseases and to save millions lives each year, and pushing for gender equality help Congo recover from injuries it has endured over the past 20 years.”

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