11 June 2017

Congo-Kinshasa: #YellowSunday - Fundraiser Aims to Raise a Million to Train Nurses in DRC

For the second year running #YellowSunday is aiming to raise over one million euros in just one day to help thousands of women in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) train to become nurses. The worldwide event takes place on 18 June.

#YellowSunday, an event organised by Congolese-led campaign group Save the Congo!, has set an intial target of raising the money needed to help 1,000 women living in conflict and post-conflict zones in Congo to train as nurses.

It wants to mobilise people across the globe.

It wants them to wear something yellow - because in Congolese mythology, yellow symbolises wealth - in solidarity with Congolese women, their families, communities and country.

Horcelie Sinda, a native of Congo, is a 22-year-old fine art student and HIV/Aids campaigner.

She was crowned Miss Congo UK 2017 last April, becoming the first black person born with HIV to be crowned queen of a beauty pageant.

She is also Save the Congo!'s Goodwill Ambassador.

Then it wants them to take a picture of their yellow outfit and upload it on social media to spread public awareness - and, for the first time this year, to donate 10 pounts, 10 euros, 10 dollars or whatever they can for Congolese women living in conflict and post-conflict zones.

"We're trying to raise money to train around 10,000 Congolese women become nurses because we realised that in Congo there's not many of them," Horcelie Sinda, 2017 #YellowSunday Convener and Miss Congo UK, told RFI. "To train a nurse, it's about 400 US dollars a year, or 1, 200 dollars for a full course over three years, and we want to start with 1,000 nurses."

"Unprecedented crisis"

With a population of just over 77 million, the DRC is Africa's third largest country, coming after Nigeria and Ethiopia. The UN has labelled it "the worst place to be a woman" and despite ongoing wars in several regions, the country only has approximately 28,000 nurses - one of the lowest porportions to population in the world.

Save the Congo! says the DRC has been identified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a country with a critical health manpower shortage and, for example, Malaria is highly endemic in the country.

Surveys have shown that fever is associated with 40 percent of child deaths and a significant proportion of mortality at all ages. This implies annual deaths of 150-250,000 children under five due to the disease.

The UK-based organisation says that 4.2 million of the DRC's under-fives are malnourished and that every year 362,000 infants die before their first birthday, over half a million under-fives die and 36,000 mothers die in childbirth.

"A lot of people want to help their local communities, but they don't know how," Sinda said. "But by training a nurse, it's not just a way to help these women but to help themselves and their community as well, because a lot of people simply don't have access to hospitals, they have to travel far to get to medical centres. So training women to become independent is one solution."

Facebook, Instagram or Tweet your Congo support

The idea behind this campaign is simple: they want to engage at least 100, 000 people online to put on their yellow dress, shirt, socks, nails or tie on 18 June in solidarity with Congolese women and upload their picture online - with the #YellowSunday hashtag - to spread awareness. People can then make their donations to support these Congolese women.

"It's more than a fundraising," Sinda continued. "It's about the wars that are ongoing today in Congo, during which women are being raped every day. So this is also to help women get their faith back, ensure that every women is independent because Congo's greatest wealth is its women, the backbone Congolese society, whose suffering seem to go unnoticed."

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