My First Time To Touch A Pen

Life is fraught with danger and challenges for the coffee farming women of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The UN has consistently ranked the DRC the worst place in the world to be a woman. However, through the life-changing tools of education and gender equity, coffee farming women across Congo are creating new beginnings. Women like Katungu Mauli from Chebumba, South Kivu, DRC. 

Katungu, and 99 other women are part of an On the Ground pilot project to develop gender equity and education initiatives in 4  different Congolese coffee farming communities. Below are her thoughts on the program, the challenges she has faced and the hope she has for the future. 



Herman Chirihambali Lwango, OTG DRC Programme Director– Please share a little information about yourself. What is your name? Tell us about your family? How long have you lived here?

My name is  Katungu Mauli, 47 years old, mother of 10 children 6 boys and 4 girls. We moved [to Chebum] 25 years ago after being chased by our family with my husband Muhindo because we took me as his wife without any permission from my family. Life is very hard and only three children are going to school.


For what purpose are you participating in this educational program?

I am participating in this program because it is very important for me. Since I was born, this is my first time to touch a pen, or to learn to write and read. I want through this program to learn more from other women. I use to hear about women rights, about equity, this will help me to know more and to learn. I think that I will get my human dignity through this program.

What do you hope to learn?

This program is very helpful for us, that is why I know I will learn so many things such as, to write and to read; how to save some money being in groups; how to start a small income generating activity; how to have a vision with my family and how to achieve it.


What are your goals and plans?

My goals are to make sure I know to write, to read and to calculate, know how many coffee trees I have, buy cherries for Muungano [Coffee Cooperative], I can write down my expenses, so many things.  My goals are to have a quiet family, where the rights of everyone are respected, a family where equality is a reality. I want to have educated children, I want my husband understand that a wife can also suggest or contribute to make a decision.

How do you think this program will help you achieve these goals and plans?

This program has started helping me to achieve my goals, I have started to learn writing and reading, I am proud to be a part of a saving group. For the first time in my life, people can ask my point of view, I can suggest and be considered. Being with the others, in the same group, learning from them, attending all the courses, all this will help me to achieve my goals.


What would you say to the men and women of United States who drink the coffee from Congo?

To the men and women from USA who are drinking our coffee, we want first to thank them for drinking our coffee. We do produce coffee but we do not drink it, I don’t know how coffee does taste. We want them to support producers and support such programs that are empowering the women. We want them to read our stories and to visit us and visit our farms.



Thank you for reading about Katungu’s struggles and successes, her challenges, and her aspirations. You can support Katunga’s life-changing education and empowerment today when you make a gift by filling out the donation form below. Please help grow education and equity for the farming families of Congo’s coffee lands today! 



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