“Look for the helpers.” Fred Rogers’ memory of his mother’s wise words remind us how to act in difficult times. In Congo, Bulonza not only looks for the helpers, she is one.
“What I see in my life and in the world that I want to be a part of, that inspires me and excites me, is to be among those people who are helping others people in difficult situations,” Bulonza says. A recent high school graduate who was able to attend school because of our partner’s Education Assistance program in Congo, Bulonza is putting her words into action. While we work to find funding for her to attend university to study medicine, she is volunteering with our Education Assistance coordinator to help with home and school visits, during which we make sure the children are attending school regularly, and ensure that they are doing well.
Bulonza’s mother died giving birth to her, and to honor her birth in the midst of that loss, her grandmother named her “the will of God.” 19 years old, Bulonza believes that her life reflects her name – despite growing up in extreme poverty, and losing her father last year, she counts her blessings above all else: namely, the gift of education and the friends she made in school.
“When my father died, I went to live with my older brother who is very poor and does not have a job, and paying my school fees was a big problem. I come from a poor family; there are 12 children and I am the only one who went to school. I was going to have to quit secondary school in my third year (there are six years of secondary school in Congo).
“I was kicked out of class because I couldn’t pay the school fees, and on the way home, I spoke to my classmate Brigitte. She told me that she was not sure it was still possible, but perhaps I might get support to pay for my school from ABFEC, Action Kivu’s partner in Congo.
“The next day, I met one of the ABFEC local staff and they said they had to introduce me to Papa Amani since my case was special, as it was the middle of the school year. I met him, and he asked me a few questions about my life and what I wanted to become. For the rest of that year, he paid for my school fees from his own pocket, and the next school year I was officially enrolled in the Education Assistance program. I have just graduated this year (2017) and did very well.”
“I have no father or mother but I am achieving my dream, and there so many others like me, but who unfortunately are not lucky like me, which is why I have to do something to help others. What I see in my life, in the world, that I want to change is to give opportunities to orphans to get a good education and help them to live without being mistreated by other people, by constructing a place where they can be safe or support organizations already doing that work.”
Education doesn’t only impact the future for Bulonza, but has changed her life already. “So many things have changed by being at school,” she says. “I have new friends such as Brigitte, I understand what it means to be helped, and my behavior has changed, I am no longer lonely. Being in school gives me value and I feel worthy and empowered.”
Looking forward to attending university and studying medicine, Bulonza plans to use her degree to reinforce Action Kivu’s anti-HIV/AIDS education program. “I will set up a mobile nursing clinic and ask other nurses to join me,” she says.
“I advise other girls to continue to study anywhere in the world and to work for the positive change of Congo and the world in general. I encourage my African sisters from Nigeria who were abducted simply because they are denied the right to be in school. We have to fight.”
Commit today to invest in a brighter, more just world through education. One year of university for this one driven girl from Congo costs 7,000 USD and covers room and board and materials. Donate today toward Bulonza’s education (type Bulonza in the “note” line on PayPal) or on the memo line of a check.