LONDON, June 12, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --
The Gertler Family Foundation (GFF) has supported the participation by HOLD-DRC, a charity which assists abandoned teenage girls who become mothers as a result of rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), in the first Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in London #TimeToAct.
HOLD-DRC (Humanitarian Organization for Lasting Development) runs a comprehensive programme of support for hundreds of girls and young women, with grant funding from the Gertler Family Foundation (GFF).
HOLD-DRC project coordinator Modestine Etoy, and Jeanne Muliri, HOLD-DRC program assistant, joined representatives from more than 140 countries to exchange practical ideas to prevent sexual violence and help survivors of rape in conflict zones.
Lord Mancroft, Chairman of the Fleurette Advisory Board, also hosted a reception on behalf of GFF at the House of Lords in London during which members of HOLD and politicians from DRC discussed their work with British peers and Members of Parliament.
"The GFF is helping us positively change and rebuild the lives of young girls whom have suffered unimaginable horrors," said Modestine Etoy. "The skills and job training, education, psychosocial therapy, childcare and other assistance our program offers these young girls is the lifeline that they and countless others like them across the globe need."
Victims of sexual violence in the DRC have few places to turn. Congolese teenage girls raped by the fathers of their children are at a further disadvantage. Discarded by their families, impunity for rapists, fear of retribution and a limited number of organizations offering vastly needed services all contribute to further suffering among this particularly vulnerable and growing group of young mothers.
In September 2012, HOLD-DRC created an integrated program to empower and help reintegrate teen mothers back into society in Goma, the capital of the DRC's war-torn Nord Kivu Province. Despite growing demand for services, HOLD-DRC ran out of funding in early 2014 and was on the brink of suspending its program and canceling future planned programs.
A GFF grant helped 80 teenage mothers whom are survivors of sexual violence complete the HOLD-DRC program that was about to close in March 2014 because of lack of funding. It also enabled HOLD-DRC to conduct a new six-month training course, which began on June 1, for an additional 120 participants. Shortage of funding has prevented HOLD-DRC from accepting more participants. Only one out of three teenage mothers whom apply to the program are accepted.
Dan Gertler is a co-founder of the GFF. One of the DRC's biggest charitable foundations, the GFF is committed to helping meet the needs of vulnerable Congolese. The issue of sexual violence is one of the core focuses for the GFF.
Lord Mancroft said : "Funding from GFF has enabled HOLD-DRC to carry on with the extraordinary work it does to give these young vulnerable women a chance to rebuild their lives. Since it was created in 2004 GFF has given millions of dollars to health, education, infrastructure, cultural, emergency assistance and other social projects. It has provided a lifeline to organizations dedicated to improving communities in DRC."
In addition to its support of HOLD DRC, the GFF in partnership with the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) has launched an education campaign to stop violence against women in the DRC and prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in the military. Studies show that women in the areas of conflict are particularly vulnerable to sexual assault, often by soldiers in armed groups, including the Army.
As part of the campaign, the GFF produced thousands of booklets with color illustrations deploring violence against women and the spread of HIV/AIDS. The booklet was distributed on military bases in all of the DRC's 11 provinces.
About The Gertler Family Foundation
An initiative of the Gertler Family Trust, the GFF is committed to helping meet the needs of vulnerable Congolese people. Since its inception in 2004, the GFF has invested millions of dollars in health, education, emergency relief, infrastructure, culture and other projects across the DRC, helping to change the lives of countless Congolese.
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SOURCE Gertler Family Foundation