It’s that time of year again, time to deck the halls. Frederictonians are coming together for the second year to help people in the Democratic Republic of Congo by selling homemade Christmas wreaths.
Frederick Mwenengabo is a member of the East and Central African Association for Indigenous Rights and a victim of the conflict in the DRC. He explains why this cause is so important to him.
“I know it is a humanitarian catastrophe, a humanitarian disaster because hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced and people continue to die and rape of women is a currency,” Mwenengabo said.
Susan Jonah made wreaths last year for the campaign and has been working on this year’s wreaths since September. She learned how to make them from a neighbour years ago.
“It was fairly successful last year. We raised a couple thousand dollars. I believe the money from last year went to a co-op program in the Congo,” Jonah said.
Jonah has been a part of ECAAIR for two years. ECAAIR also put on the International Day of Peace. She says 10 or 12 people have been working on the wreaths.
“It started last year, kind of by accident, really. One of the other guys on the committee is from Nigeria and his family had come here and his daughters are junior high age, so I suggested where this was the first winter they were here maybe they’d like to come out, because I used to do Christmas wreaths kind of as a business.”
All the money raised this year will go to support victims of rape in the DRC. Mwenengabo says while this isn’t sufficient to fix the crisis, it’s better to have something small than nothing. He compared the crisis to the Holocaust because of the millions of people who have died or been raped.
“The injustices against people, women, children, that is what makes me so passionate about the cause because injustice is injustice everywhere. In any language it’s wrong and it shouldn’t be condoned in any way.”
Jonah says the campaign has been catching on and they’ve probably sold 50 or 60 already. The fir wreaths are $20 and have handmade bows with cones and flowers. The booth will be outside in the parking lot on Dec. 9 at the Christmas Boyce Farmers Market.
For Mwenengabo it’s not only about money, but also about raising awareness, and involving the community.
“In one way or another we are all connected as human beings, as members of one human family we are connected. And that connectedness, you put yourself in the situation of the woman being raped, or a child being taken to the war or a child starving in a displacement camp and then there you can think of this and if you have any sense of leadership, you think of what you can do to advance the causes of these victims.”