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Marie-Rose Sirikari is the President/Founder-CEO of African Women Council, Inc (AWC) and an Ambassador for Peace. She is a United States citizen and Congolese origin, married and a mother of 3 adults children and 6 grandchildren; born in the city of Kipushi in the Katanga Province, Democratic Republic of Congo but based in Montgomery County, USA.
As a role model, an ambassador, leader, activist, and a mother, Marie-Rose has carved out a niche in the world with her captivating educational background and role of leadership which enable her to create African Women Council, Inc. (AWC) a non-profit charitable, humanitarian national and international organization, whose mission is to empower women and children to improve their lives locally and internationally through access to information, literacy, health education, civic participation and entrepreneurship.
Her mission is to alleviate the suffering of women and children in Africa, especially those in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where the problem is severe. The foundation is currently working to bring micro-enterprise projects for women and girls in Eastern DRC. And to assists the African Diaspora community in the State of Maryland through social service advocacy and various outreach programs
In an exclusive interview with Adenrele Adewale , President Marie–Rose Sirikari shares her humanitarian activities, her role to create pathways for young people most women and girls to have more engagement with government through empowerment program within society. She also speaks about the novel coronavirus pandemic and many success stories about her foundation.
Below are excerpt:
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on human life and brought major disruption to economic activity across the world. What have been the effort /contribution of African Women Council, Inc. combating the outbreak?
First of all, let me thank African Development Magazine for giving me the opportunity to speak on behalf of African Women Council, Inc.
Concerning Covid-19, African Women Council, Inc., recently launched a first international conference to discuss Covid-19 prevention education, a humanitarian assistance that takes into account livelihood of entrepreneurs women and girls in Democratic Republic of Congo.
DRC is one of the African countries where Covid-19 has taken a toll on human life (1, 000 people infected and more that 50 death), and caused a major disruption to an economy which was already in bad shape. DRC has over 85 million people, 60% of them are around 35 years old or younger.
The Covid-19 is moving mainly across the Capital Kinshasa which has over 13 million people. Most of the people in the capital are unemployed, or self- employed but not in the usual type of economy: they earn their living day by day, just for survival. When they are confined, their lives come to a stop. This measure can put the lives of many people in danger.
African policymakers, International organization need to develop a two-pronged strategy of “saving lives and protecting livelihoods.” This strategy includes (short-term) relief measures and (medium-term) recovery measures aimed at strengthening health systems, providing income support to workers and liquidity support to viable businesses, Can you tell us what your organization has done in this regard?
In 2013, African Women Council, Inc. has done the assessment in DRC, specially in the Eastern part, we appointed a coordinator; a Professor of the local university for help to identify what need to be done, we reached out to the local Governor, university, local businesses, chefs of the villages, faith based, women association act… The local government indicated that, all the infrastructures have been destroyed event the basics.
The governor sent the request letter to our organization (AWC) to be involved in facilitating administrative procedures related to a durable economic development partnership that is a decentralized cooperation of North-Kivu Province with the State of Maryland in the United States of America.
On behalf of AWC, I initiated the ongoing sister state partnership between the state of Maryland and North-Kivu province, Easter DRC. AWC Proposed projects to the state of Maryland, the project have been approved by Maryland State Senate both Republicans and Democratic in the General Assembly, United States Congress, the United Nations Human Rights Commission Relief Funds Trust, and other local institutions.
You are currently an ambassador for peace, president and founder of African Women Council.Inc. What are your major responsibilities and the objective of the organization to humanity?
As ambassador for peace, African Women Council, Inc’s responsibility and objectives of the organization to humanity, is to contribute to the eradication of chronic deprivations and unmatched morbidity and mortality rates associated with wars and preventable health conditions among women and children in North-Kivu Province, DRC.
One of our time-tested responses to this problem is to ensure food availability first, then promote life skills, teaching and health education among the poorest rural women and children, to prevent and treat illnesses and other conditions that routinely affect them, and thereafter render them productive and useful to themselves, their families and their communities.
Furthermore, basic knowledge and basic health will improve their income. With basic education, we will provide them the necessary knowledge to understand the importance of productivity; that understanding, in turn, will help drive their efforts toward being productive, hence useful to themselves, their families and their villages. This has not been the case in the recent past.
We believe that our efforts will provide improved health and self-reliance to the women and children of the DRC. By equipping students with the basic knowledge of reading, writing, and counting, we will provide them the ability to learn skills in such fields as husbandry, agriculture, sewing, baking and launching and growing small businesses. As a result, they will have a wider field of employment from which they will be able to earn a living and experience, thereby, some satisfaction in their lives.
The Sustainable Development Goals are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all, what are the success stories of African Women Council, Inc?
Since African Women Council, Inc., have been defending the well-being of the Congolese people in the United States of America and in Africa.
I am now glad to inform you that on behalf of AWC, I was presented with a Highest Award as Ambassador for Peace, during the celebration of the 70 years of the declaration of International Human Right Relief Fund Trust by the Universal Peace Federation, The event took place at the United Nations Millennium Plaza Hotel in New York, on November 10th, 2019, organized lead by the Secretary General H.E Malik Nadeem Abid of the United Nations Human Rights Commission, and by the late, H.E. Ambassador Foday Mansaray, UNHRC Deputy Foreign High Representative
On March 16, 2019, on behalf of African Women Council, In., I was honored and received the Highest Red Tape Buster Award among 10 Awardees from Agro-Biz World at the African Powerful Partnerships Award Gala in New York during the CSW63 for the United Nations on the status of women worldwide which took place at Millennium Hotel, One UN Place in New York.
On September 27, 2018, African Women Council, Inc received an Official Citation from Maryland General Assembly in recognition of its humanitarian and social endeavors to raise funds to alleviate the suffering of the women and children in the North-Kivu Province, East of Democratic Republic of Congo.
On June 30th, 2017, during the Congolese Independence Day, A Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition was presented to African Women Council Inc., in recognition of its outstanding contribution to advance the Well-Being of Congolese Community in the United States and in Africa.
March 16, 2017, we received a Humanitarian Services Award from the United Nations Human Rights Commission in recognition of AWC’s outstanding commitment and contribution in preserving the culture of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Africa by assisting and monitoring women and youth in the process of promoting Gender equality in the area
In the past 20 years, sub-Saharan Africa has achieved some of the most dramatic breakthroughs in the world. The number of female legislators on the continent has increased, would you consider yourself as a politician someday?
Yes, in sub-Saharan Africa, the number of female legislatives on the continent has increased, it is a great think. For myself, as in non-profit leadership institute trained and specialized in organizing the community, I am not interested in the politics but educate and train our young millennium to achieve their business, cooperatives and goals cited above and empowering them with information.
Apart from Ebola epidemic and Covid-19, DRC has been facing a measles epidemic that has already claimed the lives of more than 5,000 people. How were you and African Women Council, Inc able to sensitize people on averting such occurrence in the future?
African Women Council, Inc. will be able to sensitize people on averting such occurrence in future, faced the Ebola for last decade in DRC, now Covid-19 pandemic including measles and other diseases claiming 5,000 people.
AWC was able to sensitize people on averting such occurrence in the future in collaboration with health providers: by teaching the people the fundamentals of education, empowering them with information which can transform their living conditions. By providing them the ability to read and write, they will be able to know about the dangers and risks of drinking unsafe water, of inappropriate nutrition, and of the lack of sanitation and hygiene.
As scientists battle to find a cure for the novel corona-virus, inhabitants of Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, have resorted to traditional medicines; do you think the local cure can be generally accepted to heal the world?
We are not a Scientist to find a cure for the novel corona-virus or the Democratic Republic of Congo, have resorted to traditional medicines? We don’t know, we leave in the united state, this question, I can’t answer
Few days ago, Africa’s oldest national park, a UNESCO World Heritage site was attack and it was one of the deadliest in the world famous Virunga National Park which claims human lives and several other species, how does your organization intend to intervene for purpose of tourism?
The Attack of the Virunga National Park, the UNESCO World Heritage which claim lives and several species site, was a horrible for someone to do this act, it was a sabotage that it. Yes the tourism is one of the projects we here advocated for to be rehabilitated and to prevent such attacks again.
Lastly, African Development Magazine would like to be part of your team and showcasing and reporting your activities, will you give us this chance?
Yes, African Women Council Inc. will welcome the African Development Magazine to be part of our team; it will be united with other team of partner with the same objectives in different fields to fulfill AWC objectives by reaching out to other partners. For example the African Development Magazine will reach out to our legal partner to discuss their proposal in partnership with AWC, Inc.
Thank you for sharing with us.
You are welcome and once again, thanks to African Development Magazine for giving me the opportunity to speak on behalf of African Women Council, Inc.