Boat-Building in the DRC
Being a landmine or ERW survivor means much more than having to physically adapt to one’s situation after losing the use of a limb. For many, it means being relegated to a second-class position in one’s community, owing to common negative perceptions of people with disabilities. One way to counter these negative perceptions is to help create ways for landmine and ERW survivors to take up socially valued roles in their communities.1 In the Eastern DRC, one such way is to provide people with the opportunity to run their own successful business.
In 2020, the Polus Center began supporting members of the Victimes des Mines en Action (VMA), an alliance of landmine survivors dedicated to mutually supporting each other in their shared goal of reclaiming their lives and becoming valued members within their communities.
Polus has since provided VMA members with materials for a boat to be built by and used within the community to transport people, and deliver goods and services. Polus has also provided business training to help VMA members develop good business practices and generate sustainable incomes for themselves.
In January 2020, the first boat was launched and is currently being used by VMA to transport goods and services from the island of Idjwi to other neighboring cities and towns in the Eastern DRC. This boat offers sustainable economic opportunity for VMA members and allows them to participate as valued members of their communities.