Esperance means hope, an idea she has reclaimed amid the violent conflict that permeates Eastern Congo. Through profits from her small business selling corn and beans, Esperance is able to provide for her family again, from small but significant ways like buying soap to wash her family's clothes to sending her children to school for the first time.
Esperance is a certified nurse and is pioneering Resolve Network's new Community Health Worker Program. In her spare time, Esperance volunteers at the Nyantende Hospital in the Gender-Based Violence program, counseling HIV positive patients and teaching family planning. She hopes to one day be able to open a pharmacy in her church that will provide for the health care needs of her community.
Esperance is confident in the role women have to play in improving life for their families and building peace in their communities. Within her microloan group, Esperance strives to provide guidance and act as a role model for others who want to start up small businesses, as she did. She calls the work they do "conflict healing," cultivating a better life from the conditions that conflict rendered intolerable.
Justine is a leader in Resolve Network's grassroots peacebuilding program. When violence escalated in her village two years ago, Justine decided she was tired of waiting for the peace promised in treaties between the government and rebel militias. During the microfinance pilot project, she rallied women together from her community--all survivors of genocidal violence--and organized the first microfinance co-op in her province.
With a $40 loan and two weeks of hard work, Justine started a brick-making business. She turned her profits into three solid meals a day for her son, bringing him out of years of malnutrition. She put a secure tin roof over their home, planted a vegetable garden for extra income, and bought her son's first notebook and pencil.
How does she define success? She said she knew she was succeeding the day she heard her son making plans for the future. Luca is a former child soldier. Before, he kept trying to run away to return to the militia that kidnapped him. "It was the only time he ever felt in control, like he mattered."
Since starting her business and organizing community-building projects in their village, Justine has redefined the possible for Luca. "He now knows he can build his own future. He can build a life here, in his own community, with peace."
Last year, violent conflict in the region forced Pascaline to flee her village, interrupting her fish-selling business. Upon her return home, Pascaline had none of the resources she needed to restart her business, no source of income, and no way to provide for her family.
With a small microloan, Pascaline was able to start selling fish again. With the profits she makes selling fish, Pascaline can once again provide her children with three meals a day and send them to school. She knows that education is the key to a better life for them.
Pascaline next wants to use her profits to diversify her crop yield, furthering the financial security of her family. She wants to join with others in the community, to pool their profits to provide clean drinking water to the entire village. Pascaline's vision of the future is optimistic, with the entire community working together to create a more stable and prosperous society for their children.