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At 2.3 million square kilometers, the Democratic Republic of Congo is the 12th largest country in the world by geographic area, the fourth most populated country in Africa, and the 18th most populated country in the world [population of 60,764,000]. Life expectancy in the DRC is 48 years and the literacy rate is 66%. An estimated 5 million people have died as a result of the ongoing conflict continuing to wreak havoc. Lack of basic services and infrastructure in eastern provinces of North and South Kivu, is exacerbated by the conflicts causing enormous humanitarian needs. 40+ armed groups continue to operate in the eastern provinces, including North Kivu. An estimated 6.5 million people are at crisis or emergency levels of food insecurity and UNICEF estimates that 2.5 million children under the age of 5 are acutely malnourished. Cholera and measles outbreaks are repeatedly reported and malaria is endemic. There was a recent two-year Ebola outbreak in North Kivu and now the area is dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cathy Cleary visited the city of Goma in the province of North Kivu in the DRCongo with well-known Canadian artist,  Heather Haynes, in February of 2014.  After interviewing ten women, Cathy felt she must do something to support the women whose lives were consumed by poverty and violence. Over the next few months, Cathy worked with Kizungu, a local leader and connector to the women. Land was found, buildings repaired, and staff, including a teacher and a security guard, were hired. This was the beginning of the Tchukudu Women’s Training Centre (TWTC).  In May 2014, sixteen women began their seamstress training over a two-year period. The goal is for the women to become seamstresses and generate income in their individual or cooperative sewing businesses. The Tchukudu Women’s Training Centre is a partnership project between the DRCongo non-governmental organization, Volunteers for Mission in Child Care (VMC) and the Canada Africa Community Health Alliance    The project was initiated through World’s Collide Africa now under the umbrella of The Art of Courage   

The TWTC land and building were purchased in May 2015, with many thanks to Salute Financial Entrepreneurs, and are registered in the name of VMC. This provides stability and continuity for the women and the project. It also provides the opportunity to expand the training centre. In September of 2015, through the generosity of Pure Ingenuity Inc.,  a security wall was erected around the training centre, ensuring the safety and security of the women as well as protecting the valuable equipment and supplies housed at the centre.

As of January 2021, 65 women have graduated and began their cooperative sewing businesses. Each cooperative consists of 3-4 seamstresses working in a group.



Reusable Sanitary Pad project

Health Clinics




Basket Weaving

Tie Dye Training



Micro-finance Training

COVID-19 Mask Making



Working Shop