This is the Resolve Network vision. We have a three-tiered approach, building from micro to macro. We start at the individual level, empowering women as agents of change through literacy and microfinance. From there, we continue on to the community level, through public service projects, and the societal level, with large-scale peacebuilding projects. Once war-torn villages are now communities perpetuating peace.
› TIER ONE: INDIVIDUAL
Through our microloans, women in the Eastern Congo start businesses, enrich their communities, and build a viable path to peace. Working in our microfinance cooperatives, women have transformed a $40 loan into small businesses, farms, and factories. They have turned their profits into three solid meals a day for their families, brought their children out of malnutrition, and put a secure roof over their heads. As their businesses become profitable, women organize new co-ops and extend the same opportunities to others. Together, they break the monopoly by militias over economic channels, instead creating and perpetuating autonomous communal networks that thrive on peace. They turn a vicious cycle into a virtuous circle.
› TIER TWO: COMMUNITY
As women become self-sustaining entrepreneurs, we work with them to rebuild their communities, through their own vision for development. We have helped women organize clean access to drinking water, community health programs, sanitary latrines, and education programs. We are currently in the process of building five schools in what were once war-torn villages, but are now communities resolved to perpetuate peace.
Five women created a sustainable irrigation system for their community, increasing crop yields for everyone in the village.
"We saved our funds together, and started an irrigation plan to get water to our fields. Not just ours, but the whole village's -- we can grow more vegetables: adding spinach, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, eggplants, cabbages. Can you imagine? Every family will have enough food, all year. What one woman alone could not do, we can achieve together. You see? I am so excited by the change we are building, I want all the women in my village to take part. Right now, it is just us five in my village, but I have already seen such an enormous change. Already, there are new possibilities for my children, my community, our future. Can you imagine what we will do when all the women of my village unite?"
› TIER THREE: SOCIETY
Isolation is a barrier to peacebuilding. It prevents people from connecting, thereby minimizing communities' ability to collaborate and prevent violence. Rebel militias take advantage of this isolation in campaigns to instill fear through terror and sexual violence. In response, Resolve is launching WeNet, a diverse technological platform connecting communities. WeNet includes the use of cell phones to report, predict, and prevent violence; a community healthworker program supported through communication technology, and a mixed media blog that gives the women we work with a direct voice to the international community.
Before issuing loans, the women pass a financial literacy training. If, during the process, women identify topics they would like to explore further or areas in which they seek additional support, we organize follow-up trainings.
As part of our microfinance program, we ask women to self-organize into lending groups of five. The women in these cooperatives work together to start up small businesses, farms, and factories, and what begins as a mechanism for accountability and economic growth becomes strong social networks of support.
Our Field Staff checks in with each group once per week, and each woman individually at least once per month. All village cooperatives also meet together once a month. Together, we track the growth of their businesses, strategize to manage obstacles and grow successes, help set and meet goals, and measure progress toward their rise out of poverty.
Within a month of starting their businesses, women begin repaying their loans in small weekly amounts spread out over a year. Once their loans have been repaid, women collaborate and vote on what to do with their repayments -- either putting them toward starting new co-ops and extending the same opportunities to others, or toward community building projects as described in Tier 2.
"Since we united in our groups, we support one another to grow. We strategize about our businesses: where to buy, what price to sell, what the best market days are. We're not guessing by ourselves, we have information from our sisters. We work hard, knowing our work means something. We walk into the market with confidence--our shoulders broad, our head high. We demand a fair price for our goods, our hard work. We return home knowing we can feed our family, that we have our children's school fees."
› CONGOLESE WOMEN'S PEACE SUMMIT
As a first step toward sustainable growth, we are organizing the first Congolese Women's Peace Summit where women most affected by violence will come together at the grassroots to discuss and organize around the issues facing their community.
› CRISIS MAPPING
Resolve's Crisis Mapping project uses the open source text-messaged based information platform of WeNet to build a thorough database visually documenting trends in regional violence. Cell phones are distributed throughout Eastern Congo, allowing for people even in the most remote villages to report instances of violence. Militia attacks that once took months to come to light can now be made widely known virtually instantaneously. Resolve connects Congolese civilians to the UN Sexual Violence Rapid Response Task Force for fast intervention and humanitarian assistance. As more datapoints are accumulated, our Crisis Mapping System will double as an Early Warning System, predicting where violence is most likely to occur, providing the time to prevent militia attacks.
› COMMUNITY HEALTH
The most prevalent health issues facing rural communities in Eastern Congo are largely preventable or treatable, but remain serious health risks due to lack of access to adequate medical care. Travel to properly staffed and stocked clinics and hospitals often involves passing through dangerous territory. As a result, medical care and follow-up treatment are often out of reach for rural villagers.
Integrating rural health care training with the technology of WeNet, our program connects remote villages to urban health care providers. We facilitate trainings with our partner, Panzi Hospital, and build connections between community health workers and local clinics and hospitals to create a system of superior patient care.
Using basic and accessible technology, WeNet and our Community Health Worker Program creates innovative and appropriate solutions for health concerns by connecting people, mapping problems, and coordinating solutions. Out program provides health care to rural populations locally, minimizing the risk of travel and empowering community-based initiatives.
› TELLING OUR OWN STORIES: WOMEN IN MEDIA
WeNet is designed to bridge geographic barriers through the use of technology, enabling women to collaborate and increase the security and stability of their villages. The use of social media in WeNet reinvents the model of participation in peacebuilding. WeNet provides a platform for women in conflict, amplifying the inherent connections women form within a community, giving voice to an often unheard population and expanding the impact of individuals. Built off WeNet's platform, Resolve is launching a multi-media blog that will give women in different villages the opportunity to connect with one another and to connect with their supporters in the international community. Women will record and upload their peacebuilding stories, sharing their knowledge with women and villages just entering our programs. Women leaders will also be able to address issues that directly impact their communities, like healthcare and education, creating a vast resource for action.
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