St. Josephine Bakhita was born to a wealthy family in Sudan in 1869. The name of her birth parents were never known. St. Josephine Bakhita often experienced terrible humiliation physically and morally, as a result of being kidnapped by slave traders at the age of 7. She was re-sold in the slave markets of El Obid and of Kartoum. She was soon given the Bakhita, which meant “the lucky one,” Which was such a terrible irony at that point in Bakhita’s life.  However, in the capital of Sudan, she was purchased by an Italian consul and unlike her other slave experiences she was treated cordial and not whipped. When political situations took the consul and his friend, a Mr. Augusto Michieli, back to Italy, Bakhita was taken as well. Once in Italy, she stayed with Mr. Michieli and his wife, becoming both babysitter and friend to their new daughter, Mimmina.

While Mimmina was being schooled, Josephine felt drawn to the Catholic Church. She was baptized and confirmed in 1890, taking the name Josephine. When the Michielis returned from Africa and wanted to take Mimmina and Josephine back with them, the future saint refused to go. During the ensuing court case, the Canossian sisters and the patriarch of Venice intervened on Josephine’s behalf. The judge concluded that since slavery was illegal in Italy, she had actually been free since 1885.



Bakhita recalled her most terrifying moments as a slave woman was marked by a process resembling scarification and tattooing.  Her mistress watched her with a whip in her hand, white flour, salt, and a razor were brought in by another woman. The mistress and woman used the flour to draw patterns on her skin and then cut deeply along the lines on the skin before filling the wounds with salt to ensure permanent scarring. A total of 114 patterns were cut into the breasts, belly and her right arm. Josephine entered the Institute of St. Magdalene of Canossa in 1893 and made her profession three years later. In 1902, she was transferred to the city of Schio (northeast of Verona), where she assisted her religious community through cooking, sewing, embroidery and welcoming visitors at the door. She soon became well loved by the children attending the sisters’ school and the local citizens. Bakhita died at 8:10 PM on 8 February 1947. For three days her body lay on display while thousands of people arrived to pay their respects.


10 Ways to Tie a Tie

10 Ways to Tie a Tie 1

Are you bored with the basic ways to tie a tie? Let’s try something new and stylish! There are many creative ways to tie a tie. But we don’t have to know so many ways. As long as you can tie your tie quickly in a few ways, that’s enough. Hear are 10 easy ways to tie a tie. Whether it’s classic, stylish or conservative way, we hope you like it and maybe try different ways in various occasions. The pictures are pretty self-explanatory. Just follow the pictures and practice a lot. Enjoy!

10 Ways to Tie a Tie 2

Which one is your favorite?

Patti LaBelle’s Sweet Potato Pie

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

If you can’t find Patti LaBelle’s sweet potato pie at Wal-Mart — the one that went viral this season, thanks to a fan’s YouTube video — you can always make this recipe of hers at home. This makes a light-textured pie, not too sweet and with a nice spice flavor, with a flaky and tender crust. In LaBelle’s 1999 cookbook, she called this Norma’s Black-Bottom Sweet Potato Pie. “Black-bottom” is a reference to the technique of baking the crust first with a little brown sugar on it before filling with the sweet potato mixture and baking again.

You’ll need a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate.

Make Ahead: The pie crust dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Any leftover pureed sweet potatoes can be frozen for up to 6 months. The pie can be baked and refrigerated a day in advance.

8 – 10

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 8-10 servings; makes one 9-inch pie

  • For the crust
  • 1 1/2 cups flour, plus more for the work surface
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter-flavored vegetable shortening, chilled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup ice water
  • 1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • For the filling
  • Salt
  • 3 large orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, scrubbed
  • 7 tablespoons (most of 1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg


For the crust: Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Add the shortening. Use a fork or a pastry blender to cut the shortening into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with a few pea-size bits.

Stirring with the fork, gradually add enough of the water until the mixture clumps together (you might need more or less water). Gather up the dough and press it into a thick disk. If desired, wrap the dough in wax paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, and as long as 3 days.

Lightly flour a work surface. Place the chilled dough on it; roll out to a round that’s 13 inches across. Fold the dough in half.

Transfer to the pie plate; gently unfold the dough to fit into it. Trim the dough as needed to leave a 1-inch overhang. (Bake or reserve the scraps for another use.)

Fold the dough under itself so the edge of the fold is flush with the edge of the pan. Flute the dough around the edge of the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate while you start the filling (and up to 1 hour).

For the filling: Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add a generous pinch of salt, then the sweet potatoes. Reduce the heat to medium; cook until the sweet potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife, about 30 to 45 minutes.

Drain the sweet potatoes, letting them fall into a colander. Run under cold water until cool enough to handle. Discard the skins; transfer the cooked sweet potatoes to a mixing bowl. Use a hand-held electric mixer to blend until creamy and smooth. You’ll need 3 cups for the filling; scoop out the remainder and reserve for another use.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Uncover the pie shell; brush the interior with the 1 tablespoon of melted butter. Sprinkle the 1/4 cup of brown sugar over the bottom of the pie shell. Par-bake until the crust is set and just beginning to brown, about 15 minutes. (If the pie shell puffs, do not prick it.) Let it cool.

Meanwhile, add the 7 tablespoons of melted butter, brown sugar, the granulated sugar, eggs, half-and-half, cinnamon and nutmeg to the pureed sweet potatoes. Beat on medium speed until well incorporated.

Pour into the par-baked pie shell, smoothing the surface. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Bake (middle rack) until a knife inserted in the center of the filling comes out clean yet the filling still jiggles a bit, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, then cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

How sweet potato pie became African Americans’ Thanksgiving dessert

Sweet potato pie became African Americans’ Thanksgiving dessert

Adrian Miller November 24

Patti LaBelle’s Sweet Potato Pie, a recipe for a pie that went viral. (Deb Lindsey/For The Washington Post)

Even without Patti LaBelle and James Wright setting social media abuzz with a lot of talk (and singing) about a certain dessert, I would still daydream this week about sweet potato pie.

For millions of African Americans like me, Thanksgiving Day means sweet potatoes, not pumpkins, and we love sweet potatoes so much that we won’t settle for having a sole side dish of candied sweet potatoes (we call them “yams,” but that’s another story) or sweet potato casserole. No, we have to double down on this tasty tuber and serve up sweet potato pie for dessert, too. Sure, we eat this soul food classic year-round, but this is the week that the sweet potato pie really shines. It doesn’t have to be the only dessert option on the holiday table, but it has to at least be part of the lineup. Otherwise, at least in African American households, the spread is immediately suspect.

As much as sweet potato pie is beloved within the black community and in the South, it doesn’t seem to get much love elsewhere. Our national pie divide is deepest when people choose between pumpkin pie and sweet potato pie on Thanksgiving Day. And that got me wondering: How did sweet potato pie become a soul-food favorite over its chief Thanksgiving rival? It started happening centuries ago, and it didn’t follow the path that you might expect.

When tracing the history of African American cuisine, it’s best to take stock of what was inherited from West Africa, our ancestral homeland. I’d thought and hoped that sweet potato pie had West African roots, but the trail begins in Peru, where sweet potatoes originated. As early as the 16th century, Spanish traders shipped sweet potatoes from the Americas across the Atlantic Ocean on two different routes, one headed to West Africa and the other to Western Europe. West African cooks first experimented with sweet potatoes as a possible substitute for the other root crops (cassava, plantain and yams) that they used to make a typical meal of some sort of starch served with a savory sauce, soup or stew typically made with fish and vegetables. One particular specialty was fufu, in which a root is boiled, mashed or pounded and shaped into balls. For those who have made sweet potato pie, it doesn’t seem to be much of a leap to add eggs, milk, sugar and spices to make a dessert out of a savory mash.

But West African cooks probably never tried, for two reasons. First, the sweet spud was a complete dud to the West African palate. They didn’t like the sweet potato’s taste, disparagingly called it “the white man’s yam” and focused primarily on eating the leaves. Second, even if they liked sweet potatoes, West Africans would not naturally think of cooking them for “dessert.” That was something Europeans did. Alas, a West African origin theory of sweet potato pie goes wanting.
Unlike West Africans, Western Europeans gave the sweet potato a sensational reception. It quickly earned a reputation as an aphrodisiac, got a shout-out in Shakespeare’s play “The Merry Wives of Windsor” (“Let the sky rain potatoes”) and started showing up on England’s royal tables. Henry VIII’s voracious appetite for sweet potato tarts, the pie’s close cousin, immediately conferred an elite status on sweet potatoes as a dessert. Imagine if someone had painted the king eating a sweet potato tart with an ecstatic expression on his face. I’m convinced that would have gone viral.

Sweet potato pie from May Evans, sold at the RFK Farmers Market. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

History is silent on whether or not Henry VIII specifically requested sweet potatoes to fill that pastry; but if he did, his royal cook probably took the same approach as his West African counterparts by substituting sweet potatoes, the new root, into old recipes that utilized other roots. The only difference was that Western Europe had a dessert tradition, and roots and other vegetables were just as likely as fruit to be featured in savory and sweet pie recipes. There’s no existing recipe for Henry VIII’s sweet potato tart, but a high-profile English cookbook published a couple of centuries after his reign suggests an answer. Hannah Glasse’s “The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy,” published in 1747, was wildly popular with housewives in Britain and its colonies. In it, root vegetable “puddings” were made by boiling and grating, mashing or slicing the vegetable, then adding butter, eggs, milk and sugar before baking it in an open-faced pie shell. Sweet potatoes weren’t the only thing that got the treatment: Irish potatoes, parsnips, pumpkins and squashes were used interchangeably in the recipes.

Wealthy American colonial kitchens eagerly adopted the latest culinary trends out of England, and the Big Houses at plantations in the antebellum South were no exception. Flip through the pages of the iconic southern cookbooks used in those elite kitchens – “The Virginia Housewife,” “The Kentucky Housewife” and “The Carolina Housewife” — and you will find strikingly similar recipes for pumpkin pie, sweet potato pie and squash pie existing side by side in the dessert sections. Southern cooks, black and white, turned more often to recipes for sweet potatoes because, in the South, they were easier to grow than edible pumpkins. Using the same logic, Northern cooks preferred the easy-growing gourds for their pies. Using that sweet potato bounty, making the desserts in the Big House was often tasked to enslaved African American cooks, and it was through their expertise that sweet potato pie enters black culture.


Despite what was happening in the Big House, sweet potato pie took longer to catch on in the plantation’s slave cabins. In the antebellum South, dessert was not a regular part of a meal pattern that primarily consisted of boiled vegetables, corn bread and buttermilk. During the week, if there was a dessert, it would be a piece of corn bread with some molasses poured on top or some fruit. In addition, slave cabins rarely had the cooking equipment or appliances necessary to adequately bake a pie. The first sweet potato dessert in the slave cabin was a whole sweet potato roasted in the embers of a dying fire. Because of the glassy look that the outside would get from the caramelization of the vegetable’s natural sugars, they were described as being “candied.” Only with the advent of improved and affordable stoves and increased access to processed ingredients such as white flour and sugar could African American cooks transition from roasting sweet potatoes to making cakes, cobblers and pies. Such composed desserts became a part of the special-occasion menu for weekends and holidays.

After Emancipation, the ethnic and regional divides between pumpkin and sweet potato pies were laid bare in the national and regional media. Pumpkin pies were the pride of the North (especially New England), becoming closely associated with the Thanksgiving holiday by the late 1800s, and sweet potato pies were the South’s preferred pie, as well as an African American favorite. As millions of African Americans left the South for different parts of the country, they took their love of sweet potato pies with them, resulting in a national profile for a perpetually regional dessert.

I know that despite the high-class pedigree of sweet potato pie, some of you will adhere to a philosophy of pumpkin pie supremacy. I grieve for you, but not for long. Ultimately, it just means more sweet potato pie for me.

Kwanzaa Table Mat Editor: Liz Johnson

Kwanzaa will be here shortly so it is time to prepare for the celebration. So, we must get all of our materials/supplies together.

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Kwanzaa is a celebration of family, community and culture that combines traditions from many African cultures. It marks the harvest and emphasizes seven principles of strength: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. The ‘mkeka’ is a place mat, on which the mazao, bowls of fruits and vegetables, are placed. It is traditionally made of straw or cloth and represents culture and history. It is the symbolic foundation on which the holiday stands. Our Kwanzaa table mat is based on this tradition.

Most often here at Sew4Home, we give you very specific information on our fabric choices so, if you want, you can create an exact replica of our project. This time, we’re pushing you out on your own. Not to be mean, just because we happened to stumble across this beautiful African print fabric collection on Etsy and purchased all the seller had available. However, we’ve seen similar lovely prints at local fabric retailers, and so feel confident you’ll be able to find a set of fabrics that will be just perfect for your celebration.

The instructions below could work with any ‘charm pack,’ which is a bundle of pre-cut squares from within one coordinating fabric collection. It’s a great way to go when you have something that calls for patchworking. You save time with the pre-cut squares and the bundles are very inexpensive. One of our favorite online outlets for charm packs is Fat Quarter Shop.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

  • 26 5″ x 5″ fabric squares: we used a collection of African print fabric squares we purchased on Etsy
  • ¾ yard 54″ home dec weight fabric for center/base: we found a remnant at our local fabric store with a lovely multi-hued linen weave
  • ¾ yard 54″ wide black fabric for back of mat: we used plain black cotton
  • 4 yards extra-wide black double-fold bias tape
  • All-purpose thread in black
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Straight pins
  • Iron and ironing board

Getting Started

  1. From your base fabric, cut one rectangle 22″ x 50″.
  2. From your back fabric, cut one rectangle 22″ x 50″.
  3. Collect your 26 5″ x 5″ squares and arrange them on a large flat surface to form your ten square by five square border.
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At Your Sewing Machine

Create the patchwork border panels

  1. Collect the five squares you’ve chosen for one side panel.
  2. Pin the first two squares right sides together, along one side.
  3. Sew together, using a ½” seam. Iron seam flat.
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  4. Take the third square in your sequence and pin it, right sides together, to the completed two-square piece.
  5. Sew together, using a ½” seam. Iron seam flat.
  6. Continue in this same manner to complete your five-square side panel.
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  7. Repeat steps 2-6 to create the five-square panel for the opposite side.
  8. For the top and bottom panels, follow the same steps, but use eight squares each.
  9. You now have two completed five square rows (the sides) and two completed eight square rows (the top and bottom).
    Click to Enlarge
  10. Lay the side panels onto the top and bottom panels, right sides together, to create a rectangle, lining up your raw edges and making sure your inside corners are 90˚ angles. Pin in place.
  11. Stitch all four corner seams, using a ½” seam allowance. Iron flat.

Attach border to base

  1. Fold under the inside border of the completed rectangle ½” and press to create a finished edge.
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  2. Place the completed border on top of your cut piece of base fabric so the right sides of both are face up. Use your see-through ruler to square up the boarder. The base fabric will extend beyond the raw edge of the border. This is okay; we’re going to trim it flush later.
  3. Pin the border to the base along the finished inside edge. Make sure the border lays nice and flat against the base.
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  4. Top stitch along all four finished sides of the border, using a ¼” seam. This attaches the border to the base fabric.
  5. You now have a completed base panel with a rectangle border held in place along its inside edge.
  6. Place this completed panel on top of the black back fabric, WRONG sides together, matching raw edges all the way around. Again, the edges of the base and back fabric will extend beyond the border fabric.
  7. Pin FLAT. Start by placing pins in the middle, smoothing any ripples and working toward the ends.
  8. Edgestitch the base/border panel to the back around all four sides using a ¼” or smaller seam.
    Click to Enlarge
  9. Trim any excess fabric so your back, base and patchwork are exactly flush along their raw edges.
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  10. Iron flat. The table runner is now ready for binding.

Faux mitered binding

  1. Seam together your bias tape to create a length that will go completely around the mat with about 1″ – 2″ extra. For this project, you’ll need approximately 142″.
  2. Starting in the middle of one side of the table mat, unfold your bias tape and slip it over the the raw, edge stitched seam. Work from the right side. Be very careful that your middle fold is right on the mat’s edge and your binding is even on both sides. Pin from starting point to first corner.
  3. Bring your table mat to your machine and starting in the middle (where you started pinning), stitch binding to mat, staying as close to the edge of the binding as you can.
  4. Sew to the corner and stop. Back-tack to lock your seam.
  5. Remove the mat from under the needle and clip your threads, but do not cut your binding.
  6. Fold a pleat in the corner to make a 45˚ angle. Pin. Encase the new side’s raw edge with the binding, working your way to the next corner. Press and pin in place.
  7. Return to your machine, and matching your first line of stitching, edgestitch around the corner and down the side to the next corner. Stop at the corner and back-tack. Note: By “around the corner” I mean you should drop your needle in at the end of your original line of stitching, stitch into the corner, pivot, and then stitch down the new edge. This way, your line of stitching around each corner will appear uninterrupted.
  8. Repeat these same steps at each corner.
  9. When you return to your starting point, tuck under the raw edge of the binding, match bottom edges and match your stitching line to finish. Press.
  10. If you want super flat and secure corners and ending overlap, you can slip stitch the corner folds and the tucked fold where the binding ends

Hints and Tips

If you prefer to make real mitered corners, Starting in the middle of one side, attach your binding, mitering all four corners and making a simple folded edge finish where your ends meet. For more details, link to our tutorial, Bias Tape: how to Make It and Attach It.

African American Billionaire Will Pay For Educational Expenses of The Chibok Girls in Nigeria


By Nigel Boys

While many people have almost forgotten the horrific details of 300 Nigerian girls who were taken hostage around 18 months ago from Chibok Government Girls Secondary School by Islamic terrorists, others are still fighting to get back the remaining girls.

The heartbreaking news that the Islamist militant group Boko Haram had taken these girls simply because they had the nerve to attend school, started the social media campaign, #BringBackOurGirls, in an attempt to secure their return.

Only slightly more than 50 of these 300 girls have managed to escape the clutches of the terrorists and the impetus started to get them back appears to have slowed down, according to the Atlanta Black Star.

However, one man who has not forgotten the plight of the terrified young girls and is prepared to do something to help those who have escaped, is none other than billionaire Robert F. Smith, the second-richest African-American in the world, according to Forbes.

Smith is also founder, chairman and chief executive of Vista Equity Partners and has now set up a fund to pay for 21 girls, who were fortunate enough to have escaped Boko Haram and had the guts to enroll in scholarships at the American University of Nigeria (AUN).

“I was driving two of my own children to school, and it just hit [me] as a parent,” Smith told The Guardian. “And then the scale of Chibok. Even if it was just two or three, it’s a tragedy, but 300?”

According to the Education Policy and Data Center, female secondary school net attendance rate is only 29 percent in comparison to a national average of 53 percent in northern Nigeria. Since the 300 girls were initially targeted for attending school and the 21 escapees have since enrolled in AUN, you can appreciate the enormous risk these brave girls are facing.

Congrats to Zuriel Oduwale!!!


Congratulations Zuriel!!! Zuriel Oduwale is the youngest person that has caught the attention of Forbes Magazine, inciting an interview with the prestigious publication. Oduwale, 11-years-old, is usually the one interviewing national leaders and persons of interest. She has won awards for her journalism prowess but says that she mostly functions like any other preteen.

At the end of the day, Oduwale says that she enjoys all of the same things as other 11-year-old girls, like playing her Nintendo Wii and spending time with family playing board games.

“I do all the usual things like go to the mall with my mum and sisters and ride my bike with my neighbors,” she shared. “I am in a home school-based curriculum, so that allows me to get ahead in my school work and then I have some time to travel for my extra curricular programs like my Dream Up, Speak Up, Stand Up program, or interviewing leaders for my documentaries.”

She believes that it is her job to set the example for other girls, hoping that many more will step out and do something extraordinary. She also wants to bring awareness for those who cannot speak for themselves.

Dream Up, Speak Up, Stand Up is Oduwale’s initiative to help girls “accomplish their dreams like me,” she says. She is not afraid to ask parents and their children to use her as an example “of what their children can do.”

“I knew right away what I wanted to do even though I was only nine. It was my opportunity to find a successful revolution and show the world that Africa is not all bad,” she stated.

“When I watch the news, I find that most of the news about Africa is always negative, so I thought I could show something that was positive like a successful revolution,” she added.

“People always ask why I don’t want to be the president of an African country, but I feel if I am president of an African country, I might be able to affect one or two other countries, but if I am president of the United States, not only would I be able to affect the United States, but most countries in the world including those in Africa and the Caribbean region. That way, I can change the way girls are educated around the world,” Oduwale said of her future ambitions.

Rwanda is the best place to be a woman in Africa

By on November 20, 2015 — Rwanda ranks sixth in the world in the successful diminishing of gender gaps, according to the Global Gender Gap Report 2015

Photo: Famannan

Photo: Famannan

Rwanda is the best place in Africa to be a woman, according to the recently released Global Gender Gap Index 2015.

The country ranks sixth in the world in terms of its gender equality score, after Iceland, Norway, Finland, Sweden and Ireland. Rwanda is one of only three sub-Saharan African countries in the list’s top 20 with Namibia and South Africa at 16 and 17 respectively.

With the highest possible score on the index being 1, Rwanda scores 0.794 putting it 12 places ahead of the United Kingdom and 22 places ahead of the USA. But no country has completely bridged the gap between men and women across all areas surveyed: economy, education, health and politics.

While it has been suggested that it will take the world untill 2133 to fully close the gender economic gap, Rwanda projects that, if everything goes according to plan, it will have accomplished this long before then, reports The New Times.

Tanzania’s five gold miners trapped for 41 days rescued

Tanzania’s five gold miners trapped for 41 days rescued.

One of the surviving miners gets out of the mine. Photo: Getty

One of the surviving miners gets out of the mine. Photo: Getty

In an act described by some as a miracle, five gold miners trapped underground for 41 days have been rescued in Tanzania and 12 others are still missing.

The miners had gone underground to rescue a group of 11 other miners and they “survived by eating roots, soil, frogs and cockroaches and are receiving treatment at hospital,” the BBCreported.

Efforts to rescue the miners by the community members were abandoned last month after a fruitless week-long rescue operation.

However, the rescue operation resumed after faint cries were heard by other miners working near the accident site, which confirmed the miners were still alive.

According to reports, the rescued miners were trapped about 100m underground after a shaft collapsed. After being rescued, one miner, Chacha Wambura reportedly told state-owned television, “We survived by eating cockroaches, frogs and other insects as well as drinking dirty water that seeped in from above”.

Rural mining community in Democratic Republic of Congo. Photo: Karen Hayes / Pact

The case highlights the dangers faced by small scale and artisanal miners who often work is dangerous and unregulated conditions without any health and safety measures in place.

According to reports, “across Africa’s Great Lakes region, nearly 2 million people depend on small-scale, artisanal mining to provide for themselves and their families”.

To improve the working conditions of miners, development organisations such as Pact International have been working, on a training manual to address serious risks at mine sites in Katanga, in the Congo, which “could be the first step toward improving the health and safety of more miners across the region”.

Pact also plans to conduct hands-on trainings and safety lessons with small scale and artisanal miners, “to prevent occupational health and safety dangers in the mines, like cave-ins, tunnel collapses and landslides…educating workers about important measures they can take to protect themselves from injuries, or at worst, death”.