Bon Pasteur – More Independence for Families in DR Congo

Since 2019, Daimler has been supporting the charitable organization Bon Pasteur, which works to improve the lives of more than 19,000 people in the Kolwezi mining region of DR Congo, southern Africa, by 2022. Daimler is giving more than a million euros to support this cause.

Good Shepherd International Foundation Logo.

Eighty percent of the population in Kolwezi is dependent on mining. Through legal training, education and economic support, Bon Pasteur seeks to help the communities to become self-reliant and financially independent. A status report on local developments.

According to the German Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), around 60 percent of cobalt stems from DR Congo. There is a heightened risk of human rights violations involving people who earn a living in the mines and the entire local processing chain.

We are supporting the local social structures and in so doing are meeting our social responsibility in the extraction of raw materials," states Renata Jungo Brüngger, Member of the Board of Daimler AG, Integrity and Legal Affairs. "Our commitment is aimed at creating the basis for long-term changes. The project is a useful addition to our own measures, and especially the Human Rights Respect System, with which we seek to avoid human rights violations in our supply chains.

Cooperation as a sustainable alternative

With sustainable agriculture projects, alternative livelihoods are created especially for women.

The Bon Pasteur charity was established by the "Schwestern vom Guten Hirten" religious order, and has set itself the goal of promoting fair and sustainable development and breaking the cycle of poverty and the exploitation of children and women in the region.

Our commitment in Kolwezi cannot fully succeed without partners such as Daimler. The joint project will bring permanent and sustainable social changes for the people in Kolwezi, by creating viable alternatives to working in the mines and secure economic conditions. It will also protect and further the fundamental human rights of people in the cobalt mining communities,

says Cristina Duranti, Director of Bon Pasteur International.

"Cha Kuishi" as an opportunity for gaining independence

Sale of own products at own stand.

For women and girls in particular, it is important to create alternative ways of earning a living to working in the mines. In order to enable them to support themselves in the future, Bon Pasteur supports training measures, for example, as well as the establishment of sustainable agriculture or fish farming. The "Cha Kuishi" ("Food for Life") pilot project enables women to achieve this kind of financial independence. The long-term goal is for them to establish their own companies, and enter into local partnerships. Rooms set up specifically for women and girls protect them from violence and exploitation if necessary.

The "Cha Kuishi" pilot project is helping Kolwezi's women to stand on their own two feet.It is helping children to go to school. A network of social workers, teachers, psychologists and nurses assists them with suitable age-appropriate programs. Communities in Kolwezi are supplied with personnel and materials so that the infrastructure can be improved and structural changes have a lasting effect.

On the home stretch with international partnerships

Own tailoring: Pilot project "Cha Kuishi" as an opportunity for first independence.

Thanks to useful partnerships, not only has the Bon Pasteur charity been able to make significant progress in the mining communities of Kanika and Mukoma, but it has been able to overshoot its targets. By 2019, the organization had already helped over 5,000 people. More than 66 percent of the children cared for in the pilot project gave up working in the mines and are attending school. In the Kanina community alone, 1,929 children now go to school, and 529 women are supporting themselves and living independently. More than 322 children now attend school regularly in the Mukoma community. 122 households have learned how to support themselves from agriculture and cattle breeding, and 97 community members have received training on how to promote cohesion and development in local communities.

Bon Pasteur continues to work on expanding its social programs with additional activities, and increasing the number of people who benefit from them.

(All photos are photo courtesy of Good Shepherd International Foundation)

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