Gertler Family Foundation gives lifeline to victims of rape in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo

GOMA, Democratic Republic Of The Congo, May 8, 2014 / PRNewswire — The Gertler Family Foundation (GFF) has contributed $50,000 to the Humanitarian Organization for Lasting Development (HOLD-DRC), a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) based in Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), to assist abandoned teenage girls whom became mothers as a result of rape. Unable to secure further funding, HOLD-DRC was on the brink of suspending its current program and canceling future planned programs.

Victims of sexual violence in the DRC have few places to turn. Congolese teenage girls raped by the fathers of their children are at a further disadvantage. Discarded by their families, impunity for rapists, fear of retribution and a limited number of organizations offering vastly needed services all contribute to further suffering among this particularly vulnerable and growing group of young mothers.

In September 2012, HOLD-DRC assembled Goma civil society organizations and faith-based community groups to identify how best to assist these vulnerable girls. HOLD-DRC then created an integrated program, which includes skills and job training, education, psychosocial therapy and childcare, to empower and reintegrate teen mothers back into society in Goma.

Ms. Modestine Etoy, HOLD-DRC coordinator said: “The more than 200 abandoned teenage girls who completed our program have resumed as normal a life as possible, considering the horrors they’ve experienced. Without the help of the Gertler Family Foundation, we would have been forced to close our doors and leave thousands of similar other young mothers and their children to try and survive on their own.”

The GFF grant will enable the currently enrolled 80 teenage mothers who are survivors of sexual violence to complete the HOLD-DRC program. It will also enable HOLD-DRC to conduct a new six-month training course for an additional 80 participants. Lack of funding has prevented HOLD-DRC from accepting more participants. Only one out of three girls who apply to the program are accepted.

Mr. Dan Gertler is a co-founder of the GFF. The DRC’s leading foundation, the GFF is committed to helping meet the needs of vulnerable Congolese. Since its inception in 2004, the GFF has invested millions of dollars in health, education, agriculture, emergency relief, infrastructure, culture and other projects across the DRC.

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Mamie Kabongolo
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