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One hundred and fifty women from Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo celebrated the completion of their five-month training programs in dressmaking and design, beauty, hairdressing, and baking conducted by the GRAME Foundation and supported by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The training programs are designed to give marketable skills to women so they can become financially self-reliant.
The graduation ceremony took place on July 8, 2023, in the Kin Plaza Hotel in Kinshasa. It was attended by representatives from the Congolese government, GRAME (“Grâce à ma mère”) Foundation, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Family members also attended.
At the completion of five months of hands-on training, provided at no cost, graduates were given new equipment to ply their trades: sewing machines for the dressmakers, and kits containing a variety of tools and supplies for the beauty, hairdressing, and baking students. The Church of Jesus Christ donated $22,500 USD to help make this possible.
Julie Nsuele, President of the GRAME Foundation, said the goal of her non-profit foundation is to build women’s self-reliance by increasing their marketable skills. Wearing a dress made by one of the students, she said some entered her program without ever having touched a pair of scissors or a sewing machine and graduated knowing how to design and make dresses.
She thanked the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for its generous contributions. “Help one woman and you have helped five people,” she said. “Vive la femme congolaise!” (long live Congolese women!) she concluded to cheers from the audience.
Didier Mutombo, Church Welfare and Self-Reliance Services Manager for western central Africa, said the Church’s donation to this worthy program was “inspired by our Savior’s commandment do good to all.” “Educate a woman,” he said, and you “educate an entire nation.” He listed some of the Church’s many humanitarian projects in DR Congo and throughout central Africa, which are made possible by the voluntary contributions of Church members.
Several senior Congolese government officials attended the graduation ceremony. These included the Reverend Dr Mossaï Sanguma, 2nd Vice President of the DR Congo Senate, Dr Yves Bunkulu Zola, DR Congo Minister of Youth, and representatives from the Office of the President, Ministry of Gender, Family, and Children, and Ministry of Professional Training.
At the end of the program, models staged a fashion show of the students’ work to the delight of the students and family members in the audience.