Eurasian Resources Group (ERG), a leading diversified natural resources producer, is pleased to support the work of the Good Shepherd Sisters (“Good Shepherd”) and the Bon Pasteur Alternative Livelihood program via a Funding Agreement with the Fondazione Internazionale Buon Pastore Onlus.
Good Shepherd is implementing the Bon Pasteur Alternative Livelihood program at Kolwezi in Lualaba Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo. The goal of this program is to help break the cycle of violence and abuse against children and girls in artisanal mining communities and improve their living conditions. The organisation is particularly focused on supporting children who work in the mines and are involved in the worst forms of child labour.
The Funding Agreement will be implemented throughout 2017 and will enable an expansion of the Good Shepherd’s existing Alternative Livelihood program through ERG-Africa, the division of ERG. It will also help increase food production on farming cooperatives and thus boost food availability and revenues for those who participate in the program along with their extended families. Supporting alternative livelihoods is in line with the OECD’s and UNICEF’s recommendation to tackle child labour in the mines through addressing its root causes: extreme poverty and the lack of alternative livelihoods.
ERG is proud to be one of the largest cobalt, as well as copper, miners in the DRC and, while neither child labour nor artisanal mining form part of ERG’s operations, ERG recognises the role that it can play in supporting positive change across both the local and global cobalt industry. ERG-Africa already runs Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) processes in the regions surrounding its existing operations (Boss and Frontier) and at its regional centre at Lubumbashi. Through these existing programs, ERG-Africa has helped to provide support for local health care, farming and schooling.
Sr. Catherine Mutindi, the Good Shepherd Program Director in Kolwezi, said, “Good Shepherd believes in responsible transactions within the business community. Good Shepherd is committed to credible transformative, integrated community development with a particular focus on persons at the margins of the society, especially those in the artisanal mining communities in Kolwezi. A partnership with ERG, which is already committed to fight against the presence of women and children in artisanal mines, provides an added value to the Good Shepherd’s work in this area.”
Mr. Benedikt Sobotka, Group CEO of ERG, said, “The Sisters at Good Shepherd have been humbly and diligently working to break the cycle of child labour in the Kolwezi region of the DRC for some time. With ERG now entering the Kolwezi region with our RTR project, it is an ideal time for us to support this program. Insight from this partnership may also help us improve our existing community work at our Boss and Frontier Mine assets.”
Sr. Mutindi added, “Good Shepherd Kolwezi is very grateful for the privilege of this opportunity to partner with ERG and for this we say a big thank you. This funding partnership provides an opportunity to strengthen and improve Good Shepherd’s work in community development, human rights and, most importantly, child rights. We are grateful for the appreciation and acknowledgement of the Good Shepherd’s ongoing work in Kolwezi and we welcome this partnership with ERG with great interest. We look forward to a long-term engagement in co-learning as we partner to reduce the presence of women and children from the artisanal mines and explore alternative livelihoods for artisanal communities.”
Mr. Sobotka added, “I have great respect for the Good Shepherd team: both the Sisters and their local partners have dedicated a lot of time and hard work to helping others. By executing this Funding Agreement, we have opened the door to what I hope will be a rewarding and constructive partnership over the months and years to come.”
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