Raissa Malu

These Congolese women who save lives

Detailed review of the projects carried by Raïssa, and especially of the women (and men) who implement them.

Last year, I published the article Nothing like a "Dream Team"! to illustrate the following principle: to achieve great things, you must start by gathering the best team. Today, I would like to give you a new insight.

To annswer to the COVID-19 pandemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo, our association Investing In People (IIP ASBL) has mobilized on several fronts. We launched the Learning at Home with Science and Technology Week program to allow learning to continue despite the closure of schools.

Ventilators and mathematical analysis

We are developing a prototype emergency ventilator in order to prepare a local skilled workforce necessary for the development of such an industry. We are partnering with the COVID19DRC initiative of mathematician Jonathan Mboyo Esole to propose a mathematical analysis of DRC data.

And together with COVID19DRC, Investing In People ASBL and other partners, we are printing 3D Anti-Projection face shields for health care workers in the health zones most affected by the disease in Kinshasa, Bukavu, Goma and Lubumbashi.

Mentorship for girls

While Jonathan and I have mainly planning, coordinating and monitoring roles, these actions are implemented on a daily basis by young people, especially women, who are the new heroes our nation needs.

Since 2018, I have been a mentor in my friend Gisèle Mudiay's Ensemble à 5 initiative. Ensemble à 5 is a platform that brings together and organizes the largest number of professional women in a mentoring program tailored to mentor and educate underprivileged girls.

Six young women physicists

As it is tailored, I decided for my part to supervise students enrolled in the Department of Physics of the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Kinshasa (UNIKIN) who happen to be 6 in number: Eunice Mwamba is in 2nd Graduation, Rachel Mwamba and Rosalie Banza are in 3rd Graduation, Darole Masevosi and Sharon-Rose Kabulwe are in 1st Bachelor's degree, and Bénédicte Kalumbete, in 2nd Bachelor's degree. Darole and Bénédicte are among the 2020 beneficiaries of our Scholarships for Women in Science in D.R. Congo from IIP ASBL and Sultani Makutano.

Jonathan is the mentor of Josephine Ndeze, Miss Geek Africa 2019 and current Ambassador of the Next Einstein Forum for the Democratic Republic of Congo (2019-2021). He also teaches mathematics to the girls of the Malaïka school of our friend Noella Coursaris Musunka.

Learning at home

On the projects mentioned above, operates the team of IIP ASBL, these Avengers that I told you about in my article of 2019, plus our protégées. Thus, for the Learning at Home with Science and Technology Week program, Eunice, Rachel, Rosalie, Rosalie, Darole, Sharon-Rose and Bénédicte produced together the short videos for the physics program coached by Dora Muanda, the scientific director of Science and Technology Week.

They continue to volunteer to produce the videos for the 1st year of secondary school (7th year of Basic Education) for the Congolese Ministry of Primary, Secondary and Technical Education through the Education Project for Quality and Relevance of Teaching at the Secondary and University levels. The Ministry's physics expert appreciates their productions (and I'm not 😉).

Diversified Collaboration

For the ICT videos of our Learning at Home with the Science and Technology Week program we called upon Joséphine Ndeze with her team of Uptodate Developers. It is also Uptodate Developers who developed the COVID19DRC platform with Jonathan. The COVID19DRC team is remarkable, another Dream Team.

For the emergency respirator project, we partnered with Women's Technology (WoTech) of my friend Thérèse Izay-Kirongozi, the Congolese engineer who launched the rolling robots of the city of Kinshasa.

Computer Engineering

For IIP ASBL, the project is carried out by a young engineer and inventor, Ferawi Mabla. Ferawi is a graduate in Computer Science from the University of Kinshasa, Faculty of Sciences, Department of Mathematics and Computer Science. His major is Computer Engineering. He is passionate about embedded systems, one of the best of his generation.

Sharon-Rose, one of the future physicists, was integrated in the team to be trained by Ferawi. We are in charge of developing the intelligent part of the IIP ASBL & WoTech prototype respirator.

Face shields production units

For the 3D printing of anti-projection face shields, COVID19DRC has installed production units in Bukavu and Lubumbashi. In Goma, the production unit installed in the Faculty of Sciences of the Free University of the Great Lakes Countries (ULPGL) and directed by Professor Olivier Baraka is mobilized.

In each production unit, girls and women are active. In Bukavu, Julienne, a survivor and today a trainer in the Panzi Foundation's Jewelry Project, is assembling the face shields. In Lubumbashi, Jonathan's students from the Malaïka school program the machine with their favorite colors. In Goma, Yvette Kalimumbalo, an engineering student, recipient of the 2020 Scholarships for Women in Science in the DRC from IIP ASBL and Sultani Makutano, programs the printers and assembles the shields with others in the ULPGL laboratory.

FabLab in Kinshasa

In Kinshasa, the production of faceshields went through two phases. In the first phase, with the help of Nathalie Katende Kabongo, the focal point of the partnership between the DRC and the AIMS-NEI ecosystem, we used the Lisungi FabLab with Arnauld Nedati to produce a first batch of laser shields.

But given our limited resources, the option was taken to install a production unit as in other cities. To do so, COVID19DRC and IIP ASBL have partnered with Ingenious City, a Tech incubator.

3D printers and seamstresses

In this partnership, Ingenious City houses the laboratory with the 3D printers acquired by COVID19DRC. Under the supervision of Jonathan, Ferawi and Sharon-Rose have realized the assembly and programming of the 5 3D printers, and they monitor the prints on a daily basis.

Bijou, a seamstress, and Amen, a student from Liziba High School in Kinshasa, are in charge of the assembly of the face shields. IIP ASBL with its NGO partner Elongo Elonga will take care of the distribution for free in selected hospitals.

Essential programs

The Learning at Home program helps to maintain learning. Studies have shown that when you haven't had the opportunity to learn the basics, it will remain a difficulty for the rest of your life (dropping out of school, shame, loss of self-confidence, low income, etc.). It is therefore very important not to have breaks in learning.

The ventilator is a necessary device for patients suffering from acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), see my article The race for Made in RDC ventilators. By developing local prototypes, we can offer hospitals solutions adapted to their needs. In the short, medium and long term, the experience gained will help save lives.

Saving caregivers

Finally, in the face of COVID-19, the Democratic Republic of Congo cannot afford to lose the few health care workers it has. We cannot let them face this disease without a minimum protection. It would be suicide! By offering them these anti-projection face shields, we are helping them to protect themselves and to care for us.

This is how the women (and men) presented here contribute to save lives. Together, we put our knowledge, skills and resources at the service of local communities. And we do this because we have first been able to bring together the best teams!

Science is fun, join us! 😉

This post was first published on LinkedIn.


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