Meet The Family
 
Staff
Neema Namadamu
Founder & Executive Director 
Hero Women Rising & Synergy of Congolese Women's Associations

Neema Namadamu is a visionary game-changer. Women Thrive Worldwide named her as 1 of 14 Fierce Women’s Rights Advocates To Watch In 2014. In a Huffington Post article, peace activist John Dear said,

“She ranks with Leymah Gbowee, the Nobel laureate from Liberia and Mairead Maguire, the Nobel laureate from Belfast — two of our greatest living peacemakers.”

Crippled from polio, she is the first woman with disability from her ethnic group to earn a university degree, going on to serve in Parliament for South Kivu province, and then as Chief Advisor to DRC’s Minister of Gender and Family. Upon leaving government service, Neema founded an NGO to support disabled female-victims of violence in East Congo.

 

In 2012, Neema founded Synergy of Congolese Women’s Associations (SAFECO), a forum to foster collaboration among women-led NGOs to work their Peace, Rights, and Development agenda.

 

On behalf of the Maman Shujaa members, Neema generated a petition that garnered over 100,000 signatures that resulted in an audience at the White House, and helped spur the appointment of a U.S. Special Envoy to DRC.

Neema has become the face representing Women’s Transformative Leadership in Africa, as depicted on the cover of MasterCard Foundation’s recently sponsored study.  In 2013 Neema was awarded “Architect of Peace and Civil Society Activist” in the Great Lakes Region. In October 2014 she was honored by South African-based Celebrating Excellence in Organizations as “Africa’s Most Influential Woman for 2014”, in the Welfare and Civil Society category.

 

In December 2014 Neema was given the Outstanding Women Leadership Award by the World CSR Congress for “Outstanding women professionals who have the vision, flair, acumen and professionalism to demonstrate excellent leadership and management skills in an organization, making changes and achieving results.”

 

In 2015, Neema has been honored with the Inspirational Woman Leader award by the World Women Leadership Congress & Awards (WWLCA) 2015 in Mumbai, India, among SALT Magazine’s 100 Most Inspiring Women, and featured in the Unsung Heroes in the Face of Evil Exhibition in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

 

Says Neema, “Impact is not measured by whether or not you are amassing followers, but whether or not you are inspiring leadership. We don’t want a world of leaders and followers, but leaders only – all of us together leading this world into the good of all that’s possible.”

Boniface Rukumbuzi 
Director of Operations
Synergy of Congolese Women's Associations

With a university degree in Law, Boniface has been a valued contributing member to South Kivu Province’s Civil Society for many years. Recognized as fair and articulate, Boniface has distinguished himself among his peers and before the government as an ardent Human Rights Defender. With more than 10 years of project administration and management experience in the nonprofit world, Boniface has become invaluable to SAFECO’s project implementation since joining the staff 2 years ago.

After collaborating for years with her fellow PWD (person with disability) in Civil Society, Neema hired Boniface to facilitate a meeting she had arranged between the government of South Kivu Province and eight committees she'd formed from indigenous and other communities living in and around the Itombwe forest. Boniface proved himself more than capable of facilitating and mediating between the government and the female and male committee leaders of many tribes. Ensuring each voice was heard and acknowledged resulted in the creation of a mutually beneficial agreement between the tribes and the government to protect the old-growth forest from further destruction due to the indiscriminate granting of mining and logging contracts.

These days, Boniface takes responsibility for the day-to-day operations of SAFECO’s many paradigm-changing programs; managing staff, overseeing projects and financials, liaising with local partners, Civil Society and government agencies, all with his heart firmly centered in the vision of the “Maman Shujaa” (Hero Women) founder.

Masoka Jeanne Namunezero
Administrative and Program Manager
Synergy of Congolese Women's Associations

“I love to change Africa through young women, because it is they who will be the mothers of the nations of the world,” says Masoka.

 

Masoka is integral to the operation of both our Bukavu and Itombwe programs. A former Girl Ambassador for Peace, she formally leads our "Keep Girls in School" program and manages the Hero Women Media Center.  She also co-leads our Street Business School program, offering entrepreneurial training to women living in extreme poverty in Bukavu.

Masoka received her Baccalaureate degree in Financial and Accounting Management in 2015. In preparation for taking over the Keep Girls in School program, she completed a Micro Enterprise course at the Days for Girls University in Uganda.

 

Masoka grew up in the remote area of our Itombwe Center, and moved to Bukavu when she was nine years old.  She is happy to be able to work in the area of her home village, to change the paradigm for women and girls there.

Rebecca Roberts-Wolfe
Director of Operations
Hero Women Rising

Rebecca joined the staff of Hero Women Rising in October 2017 after being a friend of the organization for a few years.  A writer, a documentary filmmaker, and a former Program Director in the non-profit world, she is passionate about women’s solidarity and changing the paradigm of our times.  

Before becoming involved in HWR, Rebecca had previously lived and worked in West and North Africa.  Although she hadn’t had experience with Central Africa, she had felt drawn to the region for a long time.  She jumped at the opportunity to work with a visionary change-maker like Neema and join a team enacting impactful grassroots efforts in one of the Hearts of the World.

Rebecca received her Bachelor of Arts in French and Francophone Literature and Culture, with a minor in Global Change, from the University of Michigan in 2009.  Her fluency in French facilitates greater communication and collaboration between Hero Women Rising in the US and SAFECO in DRC.   Rebecca's background in agriculture also helps to inform her support of some of SAFECO’s programs and future projects.
 

Bukavu Center

Anne-Marie Uwimana 
Office Manager - Bukavu Center
Synergy of Congolese Women's Associations

Anne-Marie became a member of the Mama Shujaa (Hero Women) Media Center in 2017, and joined SAFECO’s staff in the summer of 2019.  This is how she describes her participation :

"After graduating from university with a degree in Information Technology Management, I spent many years unemployed.  I was frustrated to realize that my studies had not given me much practical knowledge of computer science, including working knowledge of the principle computing tools. We had only learned theories, without practice, due to a lack of computers, which were rare at the time.

 

I became acquainted with the Mama Shujaa Center, which provided computer training for the benefit of all women and girls. Without delay, I undertook my training with great interest.

 

Thanks to information and communication technology, I acquire knowledge day-by-day that opens up new horizons.

 

The Mama Shujaa Center, in its vision of supporting women in socio-economic empowerment, hired me as accountant of the organization, based on previously established criteria.

 

Thanks to this praiseworthy vision of the Mama Shujaa Center, I can make a peaceful living by serving my family and others."

Ariane Moza
Computer Center Manager- Bukavu Center
Synergy of Congolese Women's Associations

Clementine was the first Maman Shujaa member to join the staff. She had come to the Center to learn the computer and advocate, but we soon realized she was not only very passionate, but very capable. Clementine has now been an integral part of the staff for over 3 years.

 

Clementine achieved her bachelor’s degree in Economics in 2013.  She has shown herself to be capable of learning and playing any role with excellence. As such, when SAFECO opened the Business Center operations in 2015, Clementine was put in charge of the Cyber café.

Clementine Namasomo
Lead computer trainer - Bukavu Center
Synergy of Congolese Women's Associations

Clementine was the first Maman Shujaa member to join the staff. She was first hired as a cleaner, and began learning computer skills and advocacy. It soon became apparent that she was not only very passionate, but very capable. Clementine has now been an integral part of the Media Center staff since 2014.

 

Clementine achieved her Bachelor’s Degree in Economics in 2013.  She has shown herself to be capable of learning and playing any role with excellence. As such, when SAFECO opened its public cyber cafe in 2015, Clementine was put in charge of its operations.  She managed it successfully until the end of 2017, when the cyber cafe closed due to increased availability of data and decreased demand for computer access from the general public.

She is now our lead computer trainer in the Maman Shujaa Media Center.

Esther Atosha 
Computer, English, and Entrepreneurial Trainer-Bukavu Center
Synergy of Congolese Women's Associations

Brigitte joined the Maman Shujaa in 2013 and volunteered at the Center for about a year, when she was then asked to join the staff. Brigitte loves her work. She says it is such an honor to have work that involves empowering women.

 

Brigitte’s first role on staff was as a computer literacy trainer; teaching the basics. She then stepped into the role of helping those who’ve been trained, learn how to navigate online, and now also teaches about how to write your story, and online networking with social media.

 

Brigitte herself is very active online and so is not only a teacher and an inspiration to the Maman Shujaa, but an inspiration to women all over the world. Brigitte also played a role in the Girl Ambassadors for Peace Program, playing “mom” with the girls in their skits to dramatize the value and potentiality of girls in Congolese society.

Narcisse Zawadi
Receptionist - Bukavu
Synergy of Congolese Women's Associations

The Girl Ambassadors for Peace program is a mentoring program where Neema is raising up the next generation of Maman Shujaa, or Hero Women.

 

They are trained and then exercised through the various application mediums, such as teaching literacy to unwed teenaged mothers, doing theater skits on radio or live before entire rural communities, to dramatize the value of girls, the cultural inequities of an average girl’s life, the value of education to the girl, her family, and the community, and the rights of women and girls according the DRC’s Constitution and Family Code, and United Nations Security Resolutions 1325, 1820, among others.

Annette Scarpitta 
Rwenena Kids Founder and Gender Specialist
Synergy of Congolese Women's Associations

Annette Scarpitta prides herself on impacting vulnerable communities throughout the world. From 2008 to 2016, she played an active role as Board Secretary of the Kakenya Center for Excellence, an internationally acclaimed Maasai girls’ school. She also served on the board of Kabultec, an Afghan women’s group that provides couples literacy education and orphanage support.


It was in 2009 that Scarpitta’s social justice class for 7th graders initiated a program to serve vulnerable Congolese children. The project grew through subsequent classes and funding opportunities to eventually become Rwenena Kids. 


Ms. Scarpitta has served as photo and text editor for more than 20 years, with additional experience as a generalist researcher, writer, and fact checker. She holds the B.A. in European Studies from Scripps College and the M.A. in History from Rice University.


In 2013, she was the honored recipient of the Innovative Social Justice Program award from the Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice “for her years of initiation, devotion, and creativity in addressing global human needs.”

Emerance Nabizana 
- Bukavu Center
Synergy of Congolese Women's Associations

BIO Coming Soon

Itombwe Center

Carlos  Kinyama
Facility Manager- Bukavu Center
Synergy of Congolese Women's Associations

Carlos is a man of Itombwe. He was born in Marunde, the village where the Center is located. He grew up there and knows and is known and respected by everyone in the vast Haut Plateau.

 

Wanting to contribute, Carlos decided to go university after already in his 30s. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Business from the Kigali Institute of Education. But Itombwe is home to Carlos and after graduating from university, he was looking for a way to get back. Neema presented Carlos with her vision to build a Community Center, a Women’s Center in Itombwe. Carlos accepted and has now built a Center with over 3,000 square feet of space, built in four separate phases. The Center has a number of work spaces, a number of meeting spaces, 3 sleeping rooms, two inside bathrooms with every accommodation, solar energy and satellite internet. The Itombwe Center has set a new standard for development in the Haut Plateau, an area the size of neighboring countries Burundi and Rwanda combined. And Carlos has had a huge hand in bringing development to Itombwe.

 

Besides maintaining the Center, Carlos is responsible for supporting the Environmental Conversation and Tree Planting initiatives, the Keep Girls in School program, the Media Center activity, the Girl Ambassadors for Peace program, and a number of other projects and programs.

Letithia Nantabara
Seamstress Trainer- Itombwe Center
Synergy of Congolese Women's Associations

Letithia served as Neema’s personal assistant for many years. Whatever needed doing, Letithia was always there to make sure it happened the way it was intended. Letithia is a doer, not afraid to carry any burden; willing to support in any way she can.

 

In 2014, Letithia began learning how to sew. So in 2015 when SAFECO was embarking on its Micro Enterprise industry to make washable, reusable feminine hygiene kits, and needed capable staff in remote Itombwe, Letithia joined Neema there and became a key member of the Keep Girls in School team. Now she is an invaluable trainer at the Itombwe Center, teaching young women how to sew the Stay in School kits. 

Justin Nkundanyirazo
Environmental Conservation Field Manager
Synergy of Congolese Women's Associations

Justin is a local of Marunde. He grew up living in the forested mountains of Itombwe and working in the agricultural fields his ancestors had made by clearing areas of the forest. Now, intent on changing the traditional land-use paradigm, Justin is SAFECO’s Field Manager, overseeing its forest awareness, conservation and tree planting program.
 
Justin graduated from a Bukavu teacher training school in 1988. He moved to a neighboring country for work, serving in different positions, eventually becoming a district manager in charge of Gender, Social Affairs, and Literacy, where he was very involved in community development projects and activities. 
 
Justin joined SAFECO in Itombwe in 2013 as Community Mobilizer for our first tree planting project. Justin demonstrated a real passion and indigenous understanding of the Itombwe forest in the tree nursery development project, as well as a keen interest in working with and developing the knowledge and capacity of the local women to care for the nurseries and re-plant the forest. In 2014 he was made SAFECO’s Environmental Conservation Field Manager.

Board
Hope Ferdowsian
Board Member

Hope Ferdowsian, MD, MPH, is a double-board certified fellow of the American College of Physicians and the American College of Preventive Medicine. Known as “Dr. Hope” to many of her patients, her expertise spans the fields of medicine, public health, and ethics. For more than a decade, she has cared for patients; taught undergraduate and graduate public health students, medical students, and residents; and led key research and policy initiatives. Many of these initiatives have focused on the connection between the health and wellbeing of people and animals. She has published broadly in this area, and her book, Phoenix Zones: Where Strength Is Born and Resilience Lives (The University of Chicago Press, 2018) also explores this topic. The book also features the work of Neema Namadamu.

 

Hope has lectured in academic centers and public spaces in North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia, and she has appeared on local, national, and international radio and television programs. Internationally, she has worked in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Uganda, and the Federated States of Micronesia. She serves as a medical consultant for Physicians for Human Rights Program on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones, and she has evaluated and cared for torture, sexual violence, and other trauma survivors for more than fifteen years. It was during the course of her work in these areas that she met Neema, joining HWR's board in late 2017.

 

Domestically, Hope has worked with non-profit organizations providing healthcare and advocacy for vulnerable populations in urban and rural settings.

Elise Poindexter
Board Member

Bio coming soon

Joe Golinveaux
Board Treasurer

Joe's biggest passion is to overcome the systemic problems facing our global society.  His innovative approaches have spanned from working directly with people on the emotional/spiritual aspect of activism to the structural/logistical side of helping organizations to build capacity.  

Joe founded Mighty Nonprofits in 2015.  His company provides marketing, fundraising and accounting services to small nonprofits and NGOs.  He also consults for conservation organizations as part of the nonprofit consulting group TREC.  He holds a Master's Degree in International Development with a focus on nonprofit management.  

When Joe met Neema he was blown away that someone was doing International Development work in a truly grassroots way that so thoroughly embodied empowerment.  Initially sought out to do contract work for HWR, he was soon honored to join the board in the Spring of 2016.

Pete Giovale
Board Chair

By training, Pete Giovale is an engineer.  His work includes serving as a Director for W.L. Gore & Associates, President of GeoFamily Foundation, Board member for a Waldorf-based charter school in Flagstaff, AZ, founding partner in a Hawaiian permaculture chocolate farm, filmmaker, and father.  These divergent projects share the common orientation of interesting people, relationships, and ideas.  Pete loves to learn about and support people's dreams, especially those that are geared toward social justice, sustainability, health, and vitality.

 

Pete was first introduced to Neema's work after his wife Hilary joined a delegation on sexual violence in conflict to Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.  After watching Hilary's process of recovery from the traumatic stories she heard and ingesting news stories, films, and photography generated by the delegation, Pete became viscerally aware of the urgent need to empower feminine leadership within Congo and throughout the world.

 

Pete joined the Hero Women Rising Board in 2016, after getting to know Neema through various shared experiences and conversations. As an HWR Board member, Pete uses his masculine skills and approach to support the emerging feminine leadership in DRC and beyond.

Stany Nzabarinda
Board Member

Originally from Itombwe in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Stany served as SAFECO’s Director of Operations from 2014-2017.  During his time in that position, Stany took part in short and long term planning for the organization, in project design, implementation, and monitoring, and in management of SAFECO’s staff. Before joining SAFECO in early 2014, Stany was Academic Director at the Ruhengeri Institute of Higher Education in Rwanda.

Stany pursued his studies in three different countries, including DRC, Rwanda, and Nigeria, where he received a postgraduate diploma in Materials Science and Engineering from the African University of Science and Technology. Most recently, Stany participated in trainings toward a Master of Science in Biodiversity Conservation and Natural Resource Management from the University of Rwanda.

As SAFECO’s Director of Operations, Stany’s background in education and environmental conservation was a wonderful help in advancing the Maman Shujaa initiatives to educate women and girls and to address the impact of climate change in the Itombwe forest. As Hero Women Rising and SAFECO collaborate with partners around the world, it is vitally helpful that Stany is fluent in English, French and a number of local and regional African languages (Swahili, Kinyarwanda, Kirundi, etc).

After moving to the United States, Stany joined Hero Women Rising's board in 2019.

Stany currently serves as the Lead Case Manager at Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains, located in Albuquerque, NM. At this position, Stany is in charge of the Reception and Placement Program for refugees and asylees.

 
Staff
Neema Namadamu
Founder & Executive Director 
Hero Women Rising & Synergy of Congolese Women's Associations

Neema Namadamu is a visionary game-changer. Women Thrive Worldwide named her as 1 of 14 Fierce Women’s Rights Advocates To Watch In 2014. In a Huffington Post article, peace activist John Dear said,

“She ranks with Leymah Gbowee, the Nobel laureate from Liberia and Mairead Maguire, the Nobel laureate from Belfast — two of our greatest living peacemakers.”

Crippled from polio, she is the first woman with disability from her ethnic group to earn a university degree, going on to serve in Parliament for South Kivu province, and then as Chief Advisor to DRC’s Minister of Gender and Family. Upon leaving government service, Neema founded an NGO to support disabled female-victims of violence in East Congo.

 

In 2012, Neema founded Synergy of Congolese Women’s Associations (SAFECO), a forum to foster collaboration among women-led NGOs to work their Peace, Rights, and Development agenda.

 

On behalf of the Maman Shujaa members, Neema generated a petition that garnered over 100,000 signatures that resulted in an audience at the White House, and helped spur the appointment of a U.S. Special Envoy to DRC.

Neema has become the face representing Women’s Transformative Leadership in Africa, as depicted on the cover of MasterCard Foundation’s recently sponsored study.  In 2013 Neema was awarded “Architect of Peace and Civil Society Activist” in the Great Lakes Region. In October 2014 she was honored by South African-based Celebrating Excellence in Organizations as “Africa’s Most Influential Woman for 2014”, in the Welfare and Civil Society category.

 

In December 2014 Neema was given the Outstanding Women Leadership Award by the World CSR Congress for “Outstanding women professionals who have the vision, flair, acumen and professionalism to demonstrate excellent leadership and management skills in an organization, making changes and achieving results.”

 

In 2015, Neema has been honored with the Inspirational Woman Leader award by the World Women Leadership Congress & Awards (WWLCA) 2015 in Mumbai, India, among SALT Magazine’s 100 Most Inspiring Women, and featured in the Unsung Heroes in the Face of Evil Exhibition in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

 

Says Neema, “Impact is not measured by whether or not you are amassing followers, but whether or not you are inspiring leadership. We don’t want a world of leaders and followers, but leaders only – all of us together leading this world into the good of all that’s possible.”

Boniface Rukumbuzi 
Director of Operations
Synergy of Congolese Women's Associations

With a university degree in Law, Boniface has been a valued contributing member to South Kivu Province’s Civil Society for many years. Recognized as fair and articulate, Boniface has distinguished himself among his peers and before the government as an ardent Human Rights Defender. With more than 10 years of project administration and management experience in the nonprofit world, Boniface has become invaluable to SAFECO’s project implementation since joining the staff 2 years ago.

After collaborating for years with her fellow PWD (persons with disability) in Civil Society, Neema hired Boniface to facilitate a meeting she had arranged between the government of South Kivu Province and eight committees she'd formed from indigenous and other communities living in and around the Itombwe forest. Boniface proved himself more than capable of facilitating and mediating between the government and the female and male committee leaders of many tribes. Ensuring each voice was heard and acknowledged resulted in the creation of a mutually beneficial agreement between the tribes and the government to protect the old-growth forest from further destruction due to the indiscriminate granting of mining and logging contracts.

These days, Boniface takes responsibility for the day-to-day operations of SAFECO’s many paradigm-changing programs; managing staff, overseeing projects and financials, liaising with local partners, Civil Society and government agencies, all with his heart firmly centered in the vision of the “Maman Shujaa” (Hero Women).

Masoka Jeanne Namunezero
Director of Programs
Synergy of Congolese Women's Associations

“I love to change Africa through young women, because it is they who will be the mothers of the nations of the world,” says Masoka.

 

Masoka is integral to the operation of both our Bukavu and Itombwe programs. A former Girl Ambassador for Peace, she formally leads our "Keep Girls in School" program and manages the Hero Women Media Center.  She also co-leads our Street Business School program, offering entrepreneurial training to women living in extreme poverty in Bukavu.

Masoka received her Baccalaureate degree in Financial and Accounting Management in 2015. In preparation for taking over the Keep Girls in School program, she completed a Micro Enterprise course at the Days for Girls University in Uganda.

 

Masoka grew up in the remote area of our Itombwe Center, and moved to Bukavu when she was nine years old.  She is happy to be able to work in the area of her home village, to change the paradigm for women and girls there.

Rebecca Roberts-Wolfe
Director of Operations
Hero Women Rising

Rebecca joined the staff of Hero Women Rising in October 2017, as Director of Communications and Development, after acting as a volunteer spokesperson for the organization for several years.  A writer, a documentary filmmaker, and a former program director in the non-profit world, she is passionate about women’s solidarity and changing the paradigm of our times.  

Before becoming involved in HWR, Rebecca had previously lived and worked in West and North Africa.  She jumped at the opportunity to join a team guided by holistic vision and enacting impactful grassroots efforts in one of the Hearts of the World.

Rebecca received her Bachelor of Arts in French and Francophone Literature and Culture, with a minor in Global Change, from the University of Michigan in 2009.  Her fluency in French facilitates greater communication and collaboration between Hero Women Rising in the US and SAFECO in DRC.   Rebecca's background in agriculture also helps to inform her support of some of SAFECO’s programs and future projects.  She transitioned to her role as HWR's Director of Operations in late 2019.
 

Bukavu Center

Anne-Marie Uwimana 
Office Manager - Bukavu Center
Synergy of Congolese Women's Associations

Anne-Marie became a member of the Mama Shujaa (Hero Women) Media Center in 2017, and aligned immediately with its vision, quickly becoming one of the most engaged members and representing SAFECO at local Civil Society meetings.  She joined SAFECO’s staff in the summer of 2019.  This is how she describes her relationship to the organization :

"After graduating from university with a degree in Information Technology Management, I spent many years unemployed.  I was frustrated to realize that my studies had not given me much practical knowledge of computer science, including working knowledge of the principle computing tools.  We had only learned theories, without practice, due to a lack of computers, which were rare at the time.

 

I became acquainted with the Mama Shujaa Center, which provided computer training for the benefit of all women and girls. Without delay, I undertook my training with great interest.

 

Thanks to information and communication technology, I acquire knowledge day-by-day that opens up new horizons.

 

The Mama Shujaa Center, in its vision of supporting women in socio-economic empowerment, hired me as accountant for the organization, based on previously established criteria.

 

Thanks to this praiseworthy vision of the Mama Shujaa Center, I can make a peaceful living by serving my family and others."

Ariane Moza
Program Lead - Bukavu Center
Synergy of Congolese Women's Associations

Clementine was the first Maman Shujaa member to join the staff. She had come to the Center to learn the computer and advocate, but we soon realized she was not only very passionate, but very capable. Clementine has now been an integral part of the staff for over 3 years.

 

Clementine achieved her bachelor’s degree in Economics in 2013.  She has shown herself to be capable of learning and playing any role with excellence. As such, when SAFECO opened the Business Center operations in 2015, Clementine was put in charge of the Cyber café.

Clementine Namasomo
Lead computer trainer - Bukavu Center
Synergy of Congolese Women's Associations

Clementine was the first Maman Shujaa member to join the staff. She was first hired as an office cleaner, and began learning computer skills and advocacy. It soon became apparent that she was not only very passionate, but very capable. Clementine has now been an integral part of the Media Center staff since 2014.

 

Clementine achieved her Bachelor’s Degree in Economics in 2013.  She has played many roles at the organization with excellence.  When SAFECO opened its public cyber cafe in 2015, Clementine was put in charge of its operations.  She managed it successfully until the end of 2017, when the cyber cafe closed due to increased availability of data and decreased demand for computer access from the general public.

She is now our lead computer trainer in the Maman Shujaa Media Center.

Esther Atosha 
Computer, English, and Entrepreneurial Trainer-Bukavu Center
Synergy of Congolese Women's Associations

Bio coming soon

Narcisse Zawadi
Receptionist - Bukavu
Synergy of Congolese Women's Associations

Bio coming soon

Letithia Nantabara
Seamstress Trainer - Bukavu Center
Synergy of Congolese Women's Associations

(personal story? education?) Letithia served as Neema’s personal assistant for many years.

 

In 2014, Letithia began learning how to sew. So in 2015 when SAFECO was embarking on its Micro Enterprise industry to make washable, reusable feminine hygiene kits, and needed capable staff in remote Itombwe, Letithia joined Neema there and became a key member of the Keep Girls in School team. Now she is an invaluable trainer at the Itombwe Center, teaching young women how to sew the Stay in School kits. 

Kubota Songa Petite
Seamstress in training and (cleaner) - Bukavu
Synergy of Congolese Women's Associations

Bio coming soon

Emerance Nabizana 
Girl Ambassadors, Ring Project- Bukavu Center
Synergy of Congolese Women's Associations

BIO Coming Soon

Rachel Umutoni Walters
Volunteer Program Director, Light of Hope - Bukavu Center
Synergy of Congolese Women's Associations

In 2017 Rachel founded a program called Light of Hope, to provide school fees, supplies and uniforms for orphaned children in the DRC.  Hero Women Rising/SAFECO administers the program throughout the year in her absence. She travels to DRC at her own expense once a year to meet face to face with the staff and the children enrolled in the program, along with their foster families.  She pays for their school fees and related needs through funds raised for the program by her church, Cedar Springs, in Albuquerque, NM.

 

Rachel was born and grew up in eastern DRC.  In 2014, she moved to the United States, where she finished high school and is now attending the University of New Mexico.  She will graduate May 2020 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Designation in Honors. In August, she will begin studies for her Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and plans to continue her PsyD in Clinical Psychology, with a specialization of Multicultural Research and Counseling. She hopes to go back to DRC when she completes her education, to work there in the greatly under-served sector of mental health.

 

She also works with autistic children as a Registered Behavioral Technician.  In her free time, she volunteers with refugee families in New Mexico, helping them adapt to a new system by teaching them English, how to navigate the system, and more.

Joseph Bisetsa
Security - Bukavu Center
Synergy of Congolese Women's Associations

BIO Coming Soon

Itombwe Center

Carlos Kinyama
Facility Manager- Bukavu Center
Synergy of Congolese Women's Associations

Carlos is a man of Itombwe. He was born in Marunde, the village where the Center is located. He grew up there and knows and is known and respected by everyone in the vast Haut Plateau.

 

Wanting to contribute, Carlos decided to go university after already in his 30s. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Business from the Kigali Institute of Education. But Itombwe is home to Carlos and after graduating from university, he was looking for a way to get back. Neema presented Carlos with her vision to build a Community Center, a Women’s Center in Itombwe. Carlos accepted and has now built a Center with over 3,000 square feet of space, built in four separate phases. The Center has a number of work spaces, a number of meeting spaces, 3 sleeping rooms, two inside bathrooms with every accommodation, solar energy and satellite internet. The Itombwe Center has set a new standard for development in the Haut Plateau, an area the size of neighboring countries Burundi and Rwanda combined. And Carlos has had a huge hand in bringing development to Itombwe.

 

Besides maintaining the Center, Carlos is responsible for supporting the Environmental Conversation and Tree Planting initiatives, the Keep Girls in School program, the Media Center activity, the Girl Ambassadors for Peace program, and a number of other projects and programs.

Furaha Nyasafari
Seamstress Trainer- Itombwe Center
Synergy of Congolese Women's Associations

Letithia served as Neema’s personal assistant for many years. Whatever needed doing, Letithia was always there to make sure it happened the way it was intended. Letithia is a doer, not afraid to carry any burden; willing to support in any way she can.

 

In 2014, Letithia began learning how to sew. So in 2015 when SAFECO was embarking on its Micro Enterprise industry to make washable, reusable feminine hygiene kits, and needed capable staff in remote Itombwe, Letithia joined Neema there and became a key member of the Keep Girls in School team. Now she is an invaluable trainer at the Itombwe Center, teaching young women how to sew the Stay in School kits. 

Justin Nkundanyirazo
Environmental Conservation Field Manager
Synergy of Congolese Women's Associations

Justin is a local of Marunde. He grew up living in the forested mountains of Itombwe and working in the agricultural fields his ancestors had made by clearing areas of the forest. Now, intent on changing the traditional land-use paradigm, Justin is SAFECO’s Field Manager, overseeing its forest awareness, conservation and tree planting program.
 
Justin graduated from a Bukavu teacher training school in 1988. He moved to a neighboring country for work, serving in different positions, eventually becoming a district manager in charge of Gender, Social Affairs, and Literacy, where he was very involved in community development projects and activities. 
 
Justin joined SAFECO in Itombwe in 2013 as Community Mobilizer for our first tree planting project. Justin demonstrated a real passion and indigenous understanding of the Itombwe forest in the tree nursery development project, as well as a keen interest in working with and developing the knowledge and capacity of the local women to care for the nurseries and re-plant the forest. In 2014 he was made SAFECO’s Environmental Conservation Field Manager.

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