The Ecole des Femmes is an annual education and training programme for the KISANY embroiderers and weavers across East Africa. In 2015, funded through the Sisley Foundation, 372 hours of training were offered, including courses in Preventative Healthcare, Literacy, Financial Planning, Management and Women’s Rights. Ecole des Femmes empowers the women to improve their own lives and build healthier families and communities.More
Bijou was only just 15 when her mother introduced her to KISANY. She quickly picked up the art of embroidery and joined Kisany’s team of women, alongside her mother. Even at such a young age, she was driven to help take care of her family and take control of her own life.
Despite her full-time schedule in the Kisany workshop, Bijou was dedicated and continued her education. As she worked and learned, she grew in confidence and independence. Everyone on the team valued her work and her contribution at home was life changing for her parents and siblings. ‘At 17 I bought my own bed and mattress. It makes me feel capable and respected to purchase my own things and help buy things for home.’
Kisany is very proud to have helped Bijou find her place in the community and realise her dream of graduating. She has just completed the Management and Development programme at the Higher Institute of Computer and Management in Goma. She is one of very few in her family or community to graduate from professional school. The course has taken 5 years to complete – her work at Kisany helped pay fees for the first 3 years and the Fund Ngangi provided financial assistance for her final two years.
In parallel with school, Bijou continued to work and in 2014 she was asked to manage the social and educational component of Kisany, Ecole des Femmes. Whilst many of her peers struggled with unemployment, this management role at Kisany offered her invaluable experience and the opportunity to practice the theories she studied at school.
Bijou not only graduated, but received outstanding results! She is a symbol of success, courage and determination for her family and the entire community. It doesn’t stop here – with Kisany’s support Bijou now hopes to work toward her Masters in Business Development! ‘In my experience, Kisany is the key to making my dreams my reality.’
In 2013 Tengeneza was living in Goma with her husband and 5 children, running a small shop on her own. She was working hard to repay a debt for an emergency caesarean during the birth of her fifth child. In 2014, Tengeneza learned about Kisany and trained as an embroiderer, helping with a large order for Sisley. This work helped pay off 40% of her debt.
Around the time she finished the Sisley embroidery project, Tengeneza and her family faced a personal tragedy that turned their lives upside down. Her husband was murdered in their home. The following month, Tengeneza gave birth to her sixth child and she soon found herself drowning in debt. In an effort to feed her 6 children, she quickly sold all the goods in the small shop. Tengeneza was left with no way to support her children. For 5 months her family struggled to support the widow and her children, but they couldn’t continue paying for food, school fees and rent.
In July 2016, Tengeneza’s friends at Kisany told her of a big project in progress, the “GIVE WORK” campaign. Each of Kisany’s GIVE WORK products represent one day of work for a woman in Congo. She visited Kisany’s head embroiderer, Espe, and asked for work to help support her family. Sensitive to her situation and eager to help, Espe added Tengeneza to the GIVE WORK team and sent her home with a tea towel to embroider. This work came just in time – with her first paycheck she purchased 12 kilograms of flour and 10 measures of beans to feed her children. Unfortunately she was unable to pay school fees and her children had to stop going to school.
In August 2016, with her second paycheck from Kisany in her pocket, Tengeneza purchased a quantity of salted fish heads, which she resold around her neighborhood. With the proceeds of this business venture she bought more food and her children were able to eat 2 meals a day again.
From this point, she divided her time between embroidery and selling the goods she purchased. Despite this small success, Tengeneza was heartbroken that she could not afford school fees for her children. It looked like they would miss another year of school. Around the time of school enrolment, Kisany announced a new programme, funded by Sisley, to pay school fees for the children of Kisany workers. Tengeneza applied and her children were accepted into the programme. They enrolled immediately and are attending school today.
From the depths of sadness and hardship, Tengeneza has regained control of her life and, with the help of Kisany, is building a better future for her children.
“KISANY has done so much for me. I am grateful for the love and the solidarity of the team, the work sewing and embroidering. This has given me a solace and joy I didn’t know I could have after my husband’s death. I feel reborn. I have renewed hope and strength to fight for myself and my children.”
Tengeneza, Kisany embroiderer Goma, Democratic Republic of CongoMore
Last September, 101 children went back to school in Goma.More
Thanks to SISLEY- D’ORNANO Foundation, the children of our embroiderers get an uniform and school materials. Thank you SISLEY !
The Eastern Congo Initiative has provided Kisany with a seed grant to build leadership and sustainability within the project. The women begin leadership training on 16 May, with the objective of establishing internal governance and a legal framework to ensure longterm viability. We are grateful for ECI’s support in further empowering the women to determine the design of their own future.More
After three years of close partnership with KISANY, in 2016 Sisley wanted to celebrate mothers everywhere, from Europe to Congo. Together, we created Sisley’s very special ‘Merci Maman’ linen bag, which the UK media named a top Mother’s Day present.More
En 2000, Espérance, appelée Espé, a 12 ans quand son père abandonne la famille. Sa maman, sans ressource se retrouve seule avec 6 enfants à nourrir. C’est à Espé que revient de rôle de chef de famille.More
I was born in Goma, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in 1984. I am one of 8 brothers and sisters. After living through a violent war and rebellion, in 2002 my family lost everything in the volcano eruption. We had nothing, no house, no clothes, no money.More
Quality Assistance has set itself the challenge of being a relay for the development of 500 innovative medicines between 01/01/2015 and 2020. On June 24, each staff member received a kikoy in thanks and congratulations for reaching the 200 innovative medicines.
As part of our project Give Work , 152 kikoys represent 267 days of work for the members of Kisany.More