Dem. Rep. of Congo, Africa

DRC03a - Rehema Ministry - Secondary Education: Partnership Reports

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Report Date: May 13, 2016

Report from BHW Field Director Following Visit in 2015


Key people: George and Jaqueline Atido

The BHW Field Director visited Bunia with a prospective Partnership Facilitator, Gordon Stewart. They spent four days visiting children who are part of the Rehema programme and their families. There was a weekend in the middle of the visit and it was the start of the academic year so George was a little tied up from time to time. However, we got to meet many of the children and their families. 


Recent Events

making a differenceChildren

We visited the Ngezi pool of children one morning and spent time with 12 of them at the church where they meet and go to school. Deborah, George’s sister, looks after this group with the school director. These are very disadvantaged children. We heard many stories of death and trauma from them. We then visited one family, we were going to visit more but the rain made it impossible. 

lots of kidsOn the Sunday morning, at 8:30, we drove up to the Ngezi church and met the children there at Sunday School. There were about 80 crowded into a classroom. They usually go off to separate classrooms for classes but because we were there they didn’t want to go. So, Deboroah told them a story and they sang like crazy. About 15 of the children in the programme attend this Sunday school. 

We went out to visit a couple of families in the Cité Pool of Rehema. Joshua, the leader of the Cité pool came with us. He’s a nice guy and speaks a little English. The poverty in these two homes was appalling. Talking to Gordon later, he’s never seen anything like it. 

very gratefulOne evening we visited the children from the Shalom group, we went to Sunday School. About 100 kids showed up and afterwards we met eight of the children. Then later in the evening we interviewed some of the parents of these children, students at Université Shalom de Bunia (USB). 

Secondary Students (DRC03a)

Since my previous visit 15 more children have been added to the programme. Originally the idea was to start a new pool with secondary school children. However, as the project became reality it was decided that the best way to involve older children was to add five secondary students to each of the three existing pools. This made it much easier to follow the children up and it didn’t mean the need to find another person to mentor them. They already had someone whom they knew and who was already doing the work. 

George and Jacqueline

lots of kidsSince the last visit George and Jacqueline have shifted back to Bunia permanently with their five children; Divine 13, Deborah 12, David 9, Daniel 6 and Dora 2. George has settled in as a senior staff member of Bunia Shalom University, USB. Their coming back will see them become more involved in the Rehema programme and they want to continue growing it. Many new understandings developed for us as we listened to them share their vision. 

Jacqueline wants to start working with the parents of the children in the pools. This will start by meeting with the parents and children to pray with them about their family situation and schooling. Many parents have little awareness of the needs of their children at school as many of them did not go to school, especially the women. Many of the children need someone to advocate for them at school, the parents, especially mothers are afraid of school and teachers. She also wants to support the liaison people in the pools as they encourage the families. 

It would be ideal to increase the number of children once they get more understanding of the needs. Their main philosophy is the rescue these kids and giving them a chance to become productive. Many are vulnerable and education is a large part of the answer about their futures.  These children are entirely stuck. They drop out of school, they get into trouble and are recruited into gangs. These gangs then associate with the militia groups and they become rebels and child soldiers, raping and pillaging across the Congo. 

Many of the parents, if they were given loans would not send their children to school. The funds would not be spent on the kids as there is such little value placed on education. Life is about now, today and survival. Food and shelter is all the people can think about. This is a very difficult and traumatised population of people with no awareness of the possibilities. 

This area / Universite Shalom Bunia (USB) - Shalom University, Bunia

The area around Bunia was the worst area in the DRC affected by the war. Sporadic outbreaks of fighting still occur and there is a large UN peace keeping force on the ground. Their presence is everywhere. Local militia groups are constantly fighting each other and the DRC army who are as violent and brutal as any militia group. 

During the fighting the Christians from all sides of the ethnic groupings gathered together on mission stations and most of them were destroyed. The Christians tried to stay away from the violence and many Christians took in other Christians. But as the army and militias swept through buildings were destroyed and people scattered. Many came to USB. The fighting raged around USB but there was little damage to the buildings. 

The situation is gradually improving but there are many traumatised people and ongoing issues. Militia groups are still forming and fighting and it’s dangerous to go between towns. A number of the students have lost support while at USB. Their churches have tried to send them clothing and foodstuffs but it is looted on the road and doesn’t get through. 

George himself was traumatised at the time of the fighting, seeing his aunt hacked to pieces in front of him. He ran to Uganda and realised that people needed a different gospel to the one that was being preached. That motivated him to study so he could teach people a better way and learn forgiveness and peace.  


Personal Stories

Family 1 

difficult lifeWe visited one family that was very traumatised. They had come to Bunia from a rural village during the troubles. The wife had lost her husband, killed in the fighting. She had three children at that time and lived in terrible conditions. She then married another man and had four more children but three of them died. The husband then ran away and she hasn’t seen him since. 

She also had four other children living with her, her brother's children, he has died. When she came from the village she also came with her mother who had cared for children from other sisters who had died. Now the mother is sick, paralysed down her right side and bedridden. Another aunt lives with them as well and helps with the children. So, there are eight children, the oldest about 13, the old lady in bed, the aunt and the mum, desperately poor and discouraged.    

Of the eight children in the house, three were in school. Two of them are in the Rehema programme. The third one had just been 'chased' from school for not paying fees. The women were cultivating on a piece of land but a school came and claimed the land where they were growing things and they had to leave without even being able to get anything from the work they had done. 

Joshua found out about this family through the 39e Communaute, the brethren church in the area. This family is not an exception, there are many like it and they just need some help. 

tough life

Family 2

Last time we were in Bunia we visited Rodgers Timasima. He lost his legs in the conflict, early 2000s. He was a school teacher but now he cannot work. There are seven people living in the house, Rogers and his wife, four children and a brother. The brother is mentally deranged from drug taking. 

Two of the children are in the programme and doing fine at school. Another child is in secondary school but not doing so well. He has problems with French; reading and writing. The sponsorship helps a lot. Without it there would be many more problems.

Rodgers explained that children who don't go to school have many issues. No parental support, no electricity, no lamps or kerosene and noise in the house makes it difficult to study. Rodger's wife is the breadwinner. We met the daughter who is in the programme: Birungi Grace (something beautiful). She is in 6th grade. 

tough life

Family 3

We visited a little small woman and her family who is in the Cité pool. She has three children and two of them are on the programme. The mother was very cheerful, though I’m sure there is not much to smile about. Her family is from 100 kms away. They came to this area because of the war. She struggles a lot to bring up the children by herself and as they are getting older, it’s becoming even more difficult. 

Shalom Students

One of the pools is based around the students of families studying theology at USB. Many of them are preparing for missions in remote areas of the DRC and francophone Africa. We interviewed four of them one evening and here are some of their comments:

Remero is studying theology and a Masters in Education (practical theology/counselling). He is in his second year. He came from Bogoro, about 25 km from Bunia. It was a very bad area and he lost a number of family members, aunts and uncles, in the conflicts. One aunt was killed in front of him. He has four children with him while he is studying. The eldest is 9 and two of them are being helped at school. 

tough timesAugustine is in his second year of studying theology. He is from Jubu, another war area. He lost a brother, his father and other family members. He has six children with him, the eldest is 17 and the youngest is 2. He wants to be a pastor. 

Joseph is in his third year of theology. He wants to get into missions. All eight of his children are at USB and his wife is studying as well. He is from Beni. His father and father-in-law were killed in the fighting. 

Isaac (pink shirt in the photo) is the leader of the Shalom Pool and in his fifth year of study, finishing his Masters in Missions. He is from the upper north of the country and wants to get into missions. He has six children and two orphans from a Moslem family. All are with him at USB. 


The following points emerged from conversation with the four guys, and they are such nice people. None of them receive monthly or regular support from anyone or their churches. They feel quite abandoned once they get to Shalom. The local church usually agrees on an amount but none of them keep their promise. It costs around $US700 per student per year plus other costs like food, education etc. 

They find themselves constantly begging from family members and any support is a real encouragement. Many of the children of the students don’t go to school, it’s impossible. Sometimes they don’t have money for food and they go without. Some children are constantly being chased from school because their fees have not been paid. This often causes the parents to doubt their calling and a number drop out every year. It is much easier to cope back in their own villages than in Bunia. 

The help with the children is like manna from heaven. It costs around $US15/month for primary and $US20/month for secondary. 


Partnership's Influence within the Community

This is a difficult one to assess without being in the community for a longer period of time. However, the director of the Ngezi school is very encouraged by the programme. He would love to see a lot more children involved. He says it is different to other programmes he has seen, there is no corruption, the money comes regularly and there is a relational component towards the families. 

The parents and guardians are very thankful and express this - with a little reminder to keep it up and increase it! They have no other source of help. 


Ideas for the Future

George and Jaqueline are thinking about how they will develop further initiatives with the families of the children. This might include table banking and loans, but that will have to be thought through carefully and tested. 

They want to help more children as well but we will have to wait and see what that looks like. It won’t be this year. 

A number of the students from USB are going into missions / church planting in very remote parts of the country. There is some potential to develop partnerships with some of them as well.  


Current Issues and Challenges

There are so many more children needing help. 

Life in the DRC is a constant battle. There is a lot of instability. 

General elections are coming up and there is a lot of uncertainty among the people and fear of violent outbreaks around the electioneering. 


Prayer and Praise Points

1) That the children are being blessed and are going to school.
2) That so many families are benefitting from their children getting to school.
3) That George and Jaqueline have been able to get back there and have settled in so well. It is great that George has a job. 



This is a great partnership with lots of potential to help people. I would like to see us increase the numbers again next year.