GIVING HOPE AMIDST UNCERTAINTY
Children and at-risk women in Beni become increasingly vulnerable during times of conflict. This year’s violence had a profound effect on the people of Beni, especially children and women. Many who were already benefiting from our programs reported increased fear and anxiety as well as signs of trauma. Thanks to your support, we were able to provide ways for Congo’s most vulnerable to cope and find a sense of purpose and hope even amidst uncertainty.
Over 320 children received critical education through ABC Primary School and La Charité Primary School. This ever-important first step provides children not only with the foundation for future opportunities, but also establishes a sense of normalcy and hope while they witness the effects of conflict around them.
CHURCH RENEWAL & GLOBAL MISSION
Church Renewal and Global Mission ministered to over 5,000 youth through 2 - day conferences and held children camps during vacation periods to provide counseling and healing from psychological trauma incurred by recent violence.
BETHESDA COUNSELING CENTER
Bethesda Counseling Center provided 43 children with child therapy using music, art, and play to provide them with a safe space and tools to process trauma.
Community trauma debriefing and seminars served 140 people, providing individual and families with information on healthy strategies to process grief and heal from trauma.
Bethesda provided 174 baby carriers through the Happy Baby Program, which seeks to encourage healthy and safe child care particularly for farmers and their families. Many of these carriers were produced and purchased by a local cacao company for their farmers. The carriers were especially helpful to families fleeing the nearby conflict.
“When we fled because of the insecurity here in our village, I put my baby in my carrier and was able to run the other side of the village for shelter.”
- Mabele Kamabu, a farmer in Mavivi
Amuli Amuazi, one of NEEMA Congo’s 216 beneficiaries, used to run a popular restaurant in Beni. But in 2003 he sustained life-altering injuries in a terrible car accident. He lost the restaurant while dealing with the costs of hospital care. Now, with the help of NEEMA and UCBC alum, Kizito Muhindo, Amuli has a thriving shoe and hat business. Moreover, he also trains and helps young people to make shoes and hats so they can pay for their school fees.
“NEEMA Congo has proven to me that as long as I live there is hope. [In] 2017 I received a grant from NEEMA and bought a professional machine that helped me launch my shop. This small business helps me sustain the needs of my family.”
- Amuli Amuazi
HOLISTIC FAMILY DEVELOPMENT
Holistic Family Development (HFD) continues to provide the parents of La Charité students with job skils to meet the needs of their families. In 2018, CI purchased a 5-acre plot of land to establish an income generating project of cacao production to further support La Charité families. The land was purchased entirely through local initiative, namely family contributions and the proceeds from hand-sewn bags. Now 1200 cacao trees are being cultivated and an additional 1550 will be planted in 2019.
Six parents of La Charité students, displaced from their farming fields due to conflict, are also able to use this plot to continue cultivating beans.
EQUIPPING LEADERS ROOTED IN COMMUNITY
While UCBC aims at equipping the future generation of leaders through a transformative higher education, CI’s other programs equip leaders across sectors to lead change in their vocation. Your critical support provides opportunities for courageous women and men to lead change in the legal system, ignite economic development, and shepherd their church communities.
Lawyers have become a source of distrust for many Congolese due to corruption. However, as part of our Justice Initiative, members of the International Christian Lawyers Association (ICLA), which grew from 150 to 250 lawyers in 2018, are transforming the image of lawyers by integrating Christian ethics into practice and demonstrating integrity in their profession.
In April, week-long workshops in the towns of Beni, Butembo, and Bunia brought together more than 150 legal professionals. Focusing on the theme “I am the expected change,” the training encouraged attendees to exercise their profession with personal integrity and Christian ethics, and serve as models to colleagues in hope of igniting wider change.
Over the past two years, and as a result of their relentless pursuit of justice, the ICLA has secured the release of more than 300 people who were wrongfully imprisoned!
Wakisha (wah-KEY-sha: Swahili for “ignite”) is the business accelerator of Congo Initiative. Wakisha ignites transformational entrepreneurship in Congo by giving young entrepreneurs and leaders a chance to add value to the local economy by scaling their viable small businesses.
75% (6 out of 8) of Wakisha’s first group of entrepreneurs scaled their businesses by developing their work conditions, expanding markets, increasing revenues, hiring new staff, and improving financial and administrative management. For example, when Laetitia Mukangi’s company Maracujus began producing juice out of local maracuja fruit (passion fruit), there were only seven employees. Now, there are 20. The Maracujus team is also working on scaling their business in the future by planting enough maracuja trees in the “suburbs” of Beni.
Our long-term goal through Church Renewal and Global Mission is to teach, train, and equip pastors and lay leaders through multiple seminars at churches and Christian communities in Beni, Oicha, and Mangina.
88 couples (pastors and spouses) participated in 18 training workshops focused on themes related to servant leadership, pastoral counseling, peace and reconciliation, marriage and domestic violence, and more. An additional 40 seminars dedicated to the theme of reconciliation were held throughout the region.
HEALING FOR VICTIMS & CAREGIVERS
Since 2016, Bethesda Counseling Center has provided professional counseling services to the people of Beni. These include trauma and grief counseling for those impacted by violence and insecurity. When the Ebola outbreak hit in August 2018, Bethesda stepped in to provide critically-needed support to front line healthcare workers who are grappling with their own fears and trauma as they seek to care for Ebola victims. Partnering with organizations like the International Red Cross, Bethesda continues to serve over 36 healthcare workers. In addition, staff (like those pictured above) go door-to-door, checking on individuals and families in the community who have experienced trauma, increased stress, or grief as a result of the Ebola outbreak and insecurity. As a result of their outstanding work, Bethesda is now sought after by a variety of organizations in the region for services and training in counseling. For example, Female Solidarity For Peace and Integral Development (SOFEPADI), one of the leading organizations advocating and defending women’s rights, now refers victims of abuse to Bethesda for trauma counseling.
BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE
As noted in the President’s message, due to increased insecurity very close to UCBC’s campus late in 2018, we decided to relocate classes for the 2018-19 academic year to a facility in the center of town. This is not a permanent move, and we hope to resume activities at our main campus sometime in 2019. For now, this alternate location has been an amazing provision, as it has demonstrated UCBC’s commitment to the community, despite extraordinary challenges. Students helped to paint and clean classrooms, beautify the grounds, and prepare the kitchen for serving hot meals every day. The town campus has also attracted new students partly owing to the higher visibility of being centrally located, and it has greatly boosted morale among staff and students alike. We had an intake of 86 new students this year, which is four times more than other nearby universities.
Over the past two years, Hope Tent has become the focal point of UCBC’s community and spiritual life. A gift several months ago from one of our foundation partners will purchase the remaining electronic and A/V equipment to fully complete this project in 2019. We are also anticipating the installation of a new 60-meter radio tower that will enable us to bring back Radio Tele Bilingue (UCBC’s radio station).
In July 2018, we completed the construction of four new classrooms and the main corridor that runs through the University Chapel and Community Center--the focal point of the UCBC campus. In 2019, we hope to complete construction of another four classrooms as well as a stand-alone toilet facility to serve over 1,000 people.
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