Christmas at the St. Raymond Health Center

GFF Helps Bring Christmas Cheer to St. Raymond Health Center

Gertler Family Foundation (GFF) staff and volunteers joined the team at Saint Raymond Health Center (Centre de Sante St Raymond), to bring Christmas joy to the Center’s young patients and clinical staff.

St. Raymond is a family health center that serves an acutely impoverished population living in the rural areas of Nganda Yala and N’Sele, two remote villages located roughly 35km from Kinshasha. The Center opened its doors in 2006, and survives on donations from individuals and philanthropic organizations such as the GFF, which began supporting St. Raymond in 2012.

Gertler Family Foundation
Gertler Family Foundation

 

The Center consists of a medical clinic, post-natal center, and a nutrition center. Its small staff team provides life-saving healthcare to patients suffering from malnutrition, tuberculosis, malaria and other diseases that are unfortunately prevalent in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Many of the patients at St. Raymond are abandoned children who show up suffering from acute malnutrition. The Center provides them with housing, medical care, food and other services to meet their basic needs.

St. Raymond serves daily meals to bring its patients back to optimum nutritional health so their bodies have the strength to fight disease. Additionally, Center patients are taught how prepare and eat nutritious meals to protect their health and build resistance to disease. Many of the patients, old and young alike, travel great distances through perilous landscape, to access food and medical treatment that will keep them alive.

 

gertler christmas

 

For Christmas, though, all the pain of abandonment, disease and malnutrition was left behind, replaced by laughter and appreciation. The Center was fully decorated in the yuletide spirit. Santa’s helpers could be seen everywhere as staff and volunteers transformed the Clinic with colorful Christmas decorations, including ivy, stockings and Christmas bulbs. There was a special banquet of delicious Christmas food, and the Center’s partners pooled their efforts to produce a large assortment of toys that were collected and delivered as gift to the patients—no one left the party empty-handed. To complete the festivities, there was singing and dancing, and the celebration was a great success. All involved will carry with them in their hearts memories of the huge smiles on the faces of the children who had a short respite from their ailments and life challenges.

Patricia Willocq's project

The Gertler Family Foundation Supports Albinism through Art

Patricia Willocq’s Exhibition at the Belgian Parliament

On 15 November 2015, the Gertler Family Foundation (GFF) had the privilege of participating in the opening of talented photographer Patricia Willocq’s photography exhibition, featuring ‘Blanc Ebene’ (‘White Ebony’) project, which the GFF sponsored. White Ebony documents albinism in Africa, and the theme of Willocq’s entire exhibition was tolerance, testifying to the ongoing commitment of the GFF and its fellow organisations to supporting and increasing awareness towards disadvantaged communities Africa. It was a tremendous honour to have the exhibition opening attended by a representative of the Royal Family of Belgium.

Photos for Peace

One of the pieces displayed at the exhibition, ‘Look at Me I Am Beautiful’, won Patricia the Alfred Fried 2015 Award for best picture on the theme of Peace, which was presented to her by Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi. The photo depicts the surviving victims of sexual abuse in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), shown as beautiful survivors women who want the world to look at them as such! Another of Willocq’s award-winning images, ‘White Ebony’, which received the UNICEF Photo of the Year award for 2013, was also on display at her Belgian exhibition. It belongs to a wide range of photographs by the artist that aim at increasing awareness towards albinism in Africa.

The GFF’s Ongoing Support

As part of the GFF’s general support of children and victims of violence and sexual abuse, the organization has allocated funds in support of Patricia Willocq’s White Ebony project, and is proud to see it gain the recognition it deserves. The GFF sees education as the key to promoting social tolerance and increasing awareness towards less privileged people in the DRC, and Willocq’s photographs offer an exceptional opportunity to promote peace through art. With the ongoing support of the GFF such projects will hopefully continue to flourish.

GFF at the Pan Africa Albinism Conference

Pan Africa Albinism Conference

On November 19-22, charity organization Under The Same Sun (UTSS) hosted its first Pan Africa Albinism Conference, to promote understanding and awareness towards people with albinism, as well as to strengthen the cooperation between UTSS, PWA (People With Albinism) and international groups. Through this trilingual (English, French, and Kiswahili) conference, UTSS hopes to reach as broad an audience as possible and to recruit more support for their goal of improving the status of albinos in their communities. Many believe in the vision of the organization and showed their support by participating in the conference. Among these is the Gertler Family Foundation (GFF), which was represented by Mamie Kabongolo, its Communication Manager.

Mwimba Texas and Mamie Kabangolo
Under The Same Sun

Across the world, people with albinism are often discriminated against, marginalized, and even killed because of their misunderstood condition. Although UTSS operates globally, it mostly focuses on providing support and solutions for PWA in Tanzania. UTSS believes social inclusion should be achieved peacefully and respectfully, which is why it focuses on education and advocacy to promote its goals.

Gertler Family Foundation

In addition to supporting developing communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the GFF dedicates resources to help albino children achieve proper education. This commitment is evident in its sponsorship of the “White Ebony” project as well as the GFF’s sponsorship of 20 albino children from childhood to adulthood, in order to improve their daily lives. As part of the organization’s overall dedication to improving the social status of albinos, Mamie Kabongolo will participate in the UTSS’s conference as a way of reinforcing the cooperation between the different organizations that made it their goal to advance a more peaceful and accepting way of life.

Texas Mwimba and Peter Ash the Founder of Under The Same Sun

School with school children at their desks.

The Gertler Family Foundation Cares about Education

Helping Albino Children – The Gertler Family Foundation and the Mwimba Texas Foundation

During September 2013 the Mwimba Texas Foundation made an appeal for the support of albinos and other marginalised groups in the DRC. In response to this, the Gertler Family Foundation (GFF) made a pledge to work with Mwimba Texas to improve all aspects of these people’s lives.

Working together to improve education

One of the main projects that the Mwimba Texas Foundation and the Gertler Family Foundation are collaborating on, is to improve the education of albino children. Their efforts include an initiative in which albino children receive educational sponsorship. This is also part of the White Ebony project, a charitable initiative started in 1998. Mamie Kabongolo, Communications Officer at the Gertler Family Foundation, spoke about the organization’s commitment to Mwimba Texas and the plight of marginalised children, like those living with Albinism. Through the Foundation’s continued support these children are given the opportunity to enjoy unexpected privileges.

Improvement through education

The project involves sponsoring as many as 20 albino students to complete their entire education – from kindergarten through to tertiary education. Mamie Kabongolo also explained that the sponsorship and donation of school supplies is intended to allow children to start their school year with relative ease.

Celebrating success

A celebration ceremony in honour of the future success of Congolese albinos was held on 4th of September 2015. Around 500 people from the albino community were in attendance, including Yan Mambo, an activist for albino rights and Christian Muyoli, an albino singer and entertainer. Also present was former wrestler and philanthropist Mwimba Texas, and a delegate of the governor of Kinshasa. Because of the generosity of the Gertler Family Foundation co-founded by Dan Gertler, and Mwimba Texas, the albino beneficiaries are not only ready for their school year, but are also looking forward to a brighter future.

Patricia Willocq's project

Creating Peace Through Photography

Patricia Willocq is a Belgian photographer who has made her mark in Africa, and around the world, for her efforts to highlight the plight of vulnerable and disadvantaged members of society. In September 2015, she won the Alfred Fried Peace Photo of the Year Photography Award. The award is open to amateurs and professionals, and aims to shine a light on human efforts to promote peace and the search for goodness in the world. Willocq’s award-winning project ‘Look at me, I am beautiful’ was a culmination of years of work in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

No Stranger to the DRC

‘Look at me, I am beautiful’ is a photo series that tells a story of sexual violence in Africa through images that depict poverty, violence and exploitation. The photographer’s body of work in the DRC is impressive, and in the past she has tackled issues surrounding the treatment of people with albinism in the country, through her project ‘Blanc Ebene’ (‘White Ebony’).

Partnering with the GFF

Willocq’s photography projects were made possible through the support of the Gertler Family Foundation (GFF), an organization founded in 2004 to help support vulnerable Congolese populations. Since then the GFF has donated substantial amounts to fund projects in education, health, agriculture and cultural realms, and has proactively supported the fight against sexual violence directed at women. Co-Founder of the GFF Dan Gertler has commented: “we are delighted that Patricia has won this esteemed award”, and went on to say that the Foundation has been honored to support the cause for so long, and that he was proud of the GFF’s role in helping to “improve these women’s lives.”

Past Winners of the Award

Patricia Willocq now joins an elite group of winners including Emil Gataullin from Russia, who won in 2014 with his project ‘Towards the Horizon’. Winning and shortlisted submissions are exhibited at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, and these are also displayed (along with other outstanding submissions) on the DIGI-WALL at Vienna’s Hauptbahnhof Wien train station.

4 kids

L’Opération Sourire et la Fondation Familiale Gertler en RDC

L’Opération Smile et la Fondation Famille Gertler – Faire une Différence en République Démocratique du Congo (RDC)

” Si ils peuvent me guérir, je serais heureux de devenir normal.”

Quelle est l’importance d’un sourire? Un simple sourire a le pouvoir d’apporter des heures de bonheur: il peut changer le déroulement de toute une journée pour quelqu’un qui traverse des difficultés, et il peut transformer des étrangers en amis. Mais des nombreuses personnes de part le monde ne peuvent pas sourire. De surcroît, l’état de leur visage engendre la honte, la tristesse, et l’isolement dans leur vie. Ceux-la sont nés avec des malformations congénitales de la fente labiale et de la fente palatine.

L’Opération Smile a été créé afin d’offrir à ces personnes un nouveau rapport à l’existence, et une chance de mener une vie normale. Cette organisation fondée en 1982 se charge de coordonner des missions médicales à travers le monde, en envoyant des équipes d’experts médicaux dans les endroits les plus retirés, où des chirurgiens viennent opérer pour corriger les déformations de la fente labiale et de la fente palatine. L’Opération Smile est venu en République Démocratique du Congo (RDC) en 2009.

children

La Fondation Famille Gertler s’associe avec l’Opération Smile

Depuis 2011, la Fondation Famille Gertler (GFF) est devenu un partenaire majeur de l’Opération Smile en RDC. La GFF a commencé par soutenir la mission médicale dans la capitale de la RDC, Kinshasa, ce qui a rendu possible des centaines d’opérations chirurgicales sur place. Depuis, la GFF a renforcé son partenariat avec l’Opération Smile, et une deuxième mission a vue le jour en 2012 à Lumbumbashi, dans la province du Katanga. Au cours de cette année, l’Opération Smile a effectuée des chirurgies reconstructives du visage sur plus de 300 citoyens congolais.

La GFF a mis à disposition une camionnette pour que le message puisse être accessible à la population locale autant que possibles, y compris pour ceux qui ne possèdent pas de télévision ou autres moyens de communication, de sorte que personne ne puisse manquer l’opportunité de bénéficier de cette mission médicale. La population locale était réjouie lorsqu’ils ont appris que l’Opération Smile venait à Kinshasa et Lumbumbashi. Certains d’entre eux ont marchés des kilomètres pour avoir la chance de ressembler à tout le monde.

Le soutien que la GFF apporte ne couvre pas seulement les chirurgies, mais il couvre également la logistique autour de la mission, comme les frais de nourriture, du linge, du matériel éducatif, des services de suivi, tous les équipements nécessaires, ainsi que l’hébergement et des rafraîchissements pour les membres de la famille inquiets qui sont venus de loin pour soutenir leur proches.

La différence d’apparence physique chez ceux qui ont bénéficié du projet, avant et après, est superbe et elle rend hommage aux excellentes compétences médicales des professionnels impliqués dans la mission. Mais la plus grande différence se révèle dans le sourire des patients … À présent, des sourires éclairent même les nuits les plus sombres. À présent, ils sont normaux.

Women of Nganda Yala

Aider les Femmes de Nganda Yala à Forger un Nouveau Destin

Aider les Femmes de Nganda Yala à Forger un Nouveau Destin

Changer le status quo des femmes de Nganda Yala et des communautés voisines

La Fondation Familiale Gertler (GFF) s’est associé avec HCK pour lancer un nouveau projet d’éducation et de sensibilisation afin de répondre aux problèmes auxquels font face les femmes de Nganda Yala et des communautés environnantes, particulièrement le taux élevé d’accouchement. En effet, le problème le plus préoccupant sur place est le nombre de jeunes filles qui deviennent mères en ayant déjà trois à quatre enfants à l’âge de 18 ans. Ce cycle, qui consiste à avoir des grandes familles, sans études ou formation, qui s’ajoute au manque d’accès à des ressources vitales, a donné lieu à un sentiment d’abandon et de désespoir parmi les femmes de Kinshasa.Women of Nganda Yala

Elaborer un plan stratégique

Les femmes enceintes font parties des membres les plus vulnérables de la population congolaise. Le Congo a un des taux de mortalité lié aux grossesses des plus élevés au monde. Tout ce qui peut être fait pour inverser ces tendances est l’objectif principal des ONG tels que GFF, ainsi que celui du personnel médical au Congo.
GFF et HCK ont élaboré un plan stratégique pour offrir des opportunités éducatives ainsi que des projets d’autonomisation afin d’aider les femmes de Nganda Yala à redéfinir leur destin. Avant de mettre en œuvre ce plan, une évaluation de la communauté a été menée, réunissant des femmes locales pour parler des éléments qui sont essentiels à la construction d’une société saine qui intègre ses femmes, tels que:

• Le besoin de connaissances pertinent au bien-être physique, émotionnel, et économique des femmes
• Le rôle des femmes au sein de leur famille, leur communauté, et leur pays
• La valeur des femmes et l’importance de leur contribution dans la société
• Les défis qu’elles confrontent pour réussir

Les femmes et les jeunes filles qui ont participées aux réunions ont par la suite exprimées leur joie et optimisme ; beaucoup d’entres-elles ont dit avoir longtemps prié pour cela. Les jeunes filles et les femmes veulent inverser leur statut, celui d’être des membres ignorés de leur communauté, limité à l’accouchement et au travail manuel. Les jeunes femmes étaient surtout axées sur leurs études : elles souhaitent avoir des possibilités et être en mesure d’accéder aux mêmes types de postes dans la société que les hommes. Malgré leur volonté, les jeunes femmes ont rarement la chance d’avoir accès à l’enseignement, car les familles n’ont pas les moyens et les garçons sont privilégiés. Généralement, le seul enseignement que les jeunes filles reçoivent ne consiste qu’à les encourager à se marier et à fonder une famille le plus tôt possible.

Ambitions et Objectifs

En fonction de l’évaluation de la communauté, GFF et ses partenaires animateurs ont conçus les buts et objectifs suivants :

Ambitions:

• Identifier des projets à long-terme
• Evaluer les points forts et les talents de chacun
• Identifier les défis qui empêchent la réalisation des objectifs
• Développer une stratégie afin de surmonter ces défis
• Comprendre le rôle unique des femmes au sein de la société, de leur communauté, et leur permettre de se visualiser comme des acteurs essentiels au développement de leur communauté et de leur pays.

Objectifs :

• Devenir complètement lettré en français: lecture, écriture, et avoir la capacité de communiquer verbalement à un niveau élevé
• Développer des compétences microéconomiques telles que la couture, l’agriculture, et la construction et gestion de petites entreprises.
• Compléter un enseignement primaire et poursuivre des études secondaires.

Il s’agit d’une vaste entreprise, mais avec le soutien de GFF, des activistes communautaires, des animateurs, et avec l’enthousiasme des femmes de Kinshasa, la route vers un avenir meilleur pour cette communauté de femmes congolaises est prometteur.