“Even though the area gets 6months of consecutive good rainfall, enough to supply a river with water all year round, very little is grown.” Sr Catherine, 2012
Perhaps because people have all been involved in mining, agriculture has been largely untouched. Since all of the food in the area is imported from outside of the country variety and nutrition is poor and inflation is high. Poor living conditions festers disease and abuse, whilst high inflation rates make healthcare and living expensive. This leads to a whole plethora of problems: many young girls enter into early marriage to gain economic security, others may turn to prostitution; gender-based violence is rife; the rate of disease, including HIV/AIDS, is very high; many orphans are left to fend for themselves as parents die because they cannot afford healthcare; family sizes are large (usually 6); there is a lack of education since schools are not free, and the quality of education is poor due to over-crowded classrooms; child labour in the mines is common, most earning between $1-$5 a day which is used to supplement family incomes; and there is an over-all lack of social-cohesion and trust since most of the population are from many different regions and tribes, which in the past has been used for political advantage. Just by getting people to work together in their programs the sisters are supporting better social unity.
The Good Shepherd Sisters first travelled to Kolwezi in January 2012. They began working in Domaine Maria, a suburb of Kolwezi with a population of 50,000.
They aim to give people the opportunity to make a different life than the one on offer in the mines
The project’s main areas of focus are food security and alternative livelihood, violence and abuse against women and children, child protection, and democratisation for good governance and mining company accountability.