It’s hard to tell who is more excited about the first day of school this year: the kids or Papa Amani, as the students in Congo call our partner in Congo. Amani lights up when he talks about sending children to school, giving them hope for a better future and the means to pursue their goals and dreams. He knows that educating children, and specifically sending girls to school, often denied education simply because of their gender, is one of the best ways to break the cycle of extreme poverty furthered by decades of war in this corner of Congo. Thanks to a generous grant from Jewish World Watch, many of the children we serve in eastern Congo, kids who are orphans or whose families are unable to afford school fees and supplies, are back in the classroom this week!
Amani often echoes Nelson Mandela’s words: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
We’re thrilled to post our own Back to School photos. Meet Cibalonza, who is six years old and so excited to begin her education, entering grade 1 in elementary school this year. She’s surrounded by the school kits each child receives: a school bag, a uniform (many sewn by the students and graduates of Action Kivu’s Sewing Workshop), copy books, a pencil, two pens, a mathematical box, and a ruler.
We’re happy to share an update on Ntaboba. When he was six years old, Ntaboba, whose name means “no fear,” stepped on a live grenade in the jungle near his home in eastern Congo, mangling and twisting his leg, forcing him to walk with a metal pole for support, which further twisted his spine. Because of the injury, he often missed classes and fell behind in his education when he could not navigate the five kilometers to his school.
Margaret Johnson and Betty Merner, two Americans visiting Congo with their friend Dr. Victoria Bentley of Empower Congo Women, met Ntaboba in Mumosho. They quickly connected to Ntaboba’s soft spirit and strong character, and were determined to do what they could to help him. Thanks to the emotional and financial support of these women and school kids they work with in Rhode Island, in 2012, Ntaboba received a surgery on his leg from Heal Africa in Goma, a hospital renowned as one of only three referral hospitals in the DR Congo. He continues to walk freely with “no fear,” stepping into grade 2 in secondary school.
Read more about our programs, and how your partnership and donations support life-changing work in Congo, here!
Meet Mamy in a video from our Sewing Graduation Day, 2015
Meet Cikwanine, Nadine, & Chanceline – three teen moms who are back in school!
Meet Claudine, and read her story of coming “back to life”
Meet Grandma Mwayuma and see some of the children at play
Meet Amani through the Enough Project’s “I Am Congo” video series
Meet the goats in our animal husbandry program, Your Goat is My Goat
A picture is worth a thousand words:
Meet some of the kids in Mumosho, DRC, who take a break from their play to clown for the camera at the playground built through our partner’s work. How can we state in just a few words what it means for these children to have a safe space to just be kids, without worry for their safety (besides a scraped knee), playing with abandon?
We are grateful for the grant from our partners in Sweden from Direktionen för Nytta och Nöje in Strömstad that created this playground in Mumosho, DRC, who connected with our work through Gunilla Hamne of Peaceful Heart Network.
And grandma Mwayuma is grateful as well, to have a safe place to drop off her grandchildren while she goes to the Peace Market!
“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”
When we asked Amani what the kids call a teeter-totter & merry-go-round in their local language, we learned that the teeter-totter is called ”musumba” in Mashi and that the merry-go-around has no name in Mashi.
These games were not in the children’s vocabulary before the Swedes from Direktionen för Nytta och Nöje in Strömstad created this playground in Mumosho, DRC.
Here’s to kids having a place to play, and all of us sharing games and culture without borders or boundaries. We can’t wait to learn more about games and play from kids in Congo who have more peace, freedom, and safety to explore!