UPDATE! On July 23rd the Lake Kivu Coffee Alliance was chosen as a finalist in the P3 Impact Awards. Click here to read the article from the US Department of State’s website.
The Lake Kivu Coffee Alliance: Helping farmers in eastern DRC regain lost ground
In 2013, while fleeing fighting between DRC government forces and rebel groups in Masisi, Venancie Nyirazoba survived a bomb explosion that killed her husband and three of her nine children. Her leg was badly injured in the attack and had to be amputated. “This incident completely changed my life. I was left alone and that’s when my leg was badly injured,” she explains. After the war Venancie tried to farm her land but her leg made that work impossible. “I suffered a lot with my leg, I couldn’t move around or do anything, no matter what I tried.”
Today however, with a confident smile and hopeful attitude, Venanci is an inspiring example of how the Lake Kivu Coffee Alliance – a partnership between ECI, The Polus Center for Diplomatic Economic Development, the US State Department Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement and Higher Grounds Trading Company – is rebuilding lives in eastern Congo. By providing prosthetic limbs and other forms of support, the Lake Kivu Coffee Alliance is helping survivors regain their land, their livelihoods and their confidence.
“Here, no one notices that my leg was amputated,” says Venancie, who now lives in Kanyaruchinya, a small town a few miles north of the Goma in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. “It’s hard to tell the difference between my two legs,” she says, showing us her prosthetic leg.
Venancie is one of 18 survivors of landmine-related violence being treated at the Handicap Center of Goma. Her story is a reminder that despite the enormous challenges of landmines and instability, Congolese farmers are pushing forward with positivity and support.
“This new prosthetic has helped a lot. I can walk by myself and do the work I need to do on my farm. Today, I feel I can take up some of my work, and in the future, I’m planning on starting again.”