Dem. Rep. of Congo, Africa

DRC03 - Rehema Ministry: Partnership Reports

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Report Date: June 24, 2019

Report from BHW DRC Partnership Facilitator

Key person:  George Atido Pirwoth (left in photo below)


facilitatorsRecent Events

I visited this area for three days in June 2019. During that time I visited the locations of two of the pools of children, Shalom and Ngezi, but could not visit Cité as it was too dangerous to be out in rural and semi-rural areas. It was also exam time so people were not wanting to be disturbed. 

The facilitators of the Cité and Ngezi groups are the same people. Joshua (centre in above photo) in Cité and Deborah (right in above photo) in Ngezi. The Shalom group has a new facilitator, his name is Moses Uwur (see Personal Stories below). 

grateful for educationIn the Cité group the funds for education are paid directly to the various schools that the students go to. In the Ngezi group (photo on right), they all go to the same school so the school is paid directly. In the Shalom group, because there are numerous options for schooling and different fee structures, each student is given the same amount and the parents then have to decide if they want to pay extra to go to a better school or less so they don’t have to contribute anything. This is a change they made as there are some expensive schools that the parents wanted to send their children too but they were too expensive for the project. 

Some months ago there was a serious development related to Shalom Christian University (UBS). Near the main campus UBS owns 35 acres of prime land within the city boundaries. They have student housing there, lecture rooms and the students are each given some land for a garden. This is the major source of food for many of the student families. When George was in Europe a few months ago, a local judge decided he wanted the land so he sent police and army in to remove the people on it and any structures. The students at the college rioted and there was a tense standoff with tear gas fired into the campus and a lot of threats. However, the staff managed to deal with the situation and it is now stable. Fortunately there is a new governor now who would not allow this to happen. 


Personal Stories

student at UBSMoses Uwur is a student at UBS and comes from a small church in Kinshasa where he is an elder. He is doing a Master of Missions degree with a focus on Isam. He is here with his wife Piwat and two of their youngest children. He intends to go back to that church but will probably then be sent into a missions environment somewhere. He is in his second year of study and also of co-ordinating the Shalom group. The role doesn’t take a lot of time, most of it is done informally apart from when the money is distributed. 

The parents of the Ngezi group never expected that they would ever be able to send their children to school and they are surprised that people from so far away would be willing to help them as they are not family. Many of the people in this community are looking after orphans, many from families they do not even know. 

One woman’s husband died leaving her with five children. She also has an orphan and now she has few worries. “It’s a great joy” she said.

Another man, the only man in the meeting, had 10 children and two were in the programme. It was a great help. 

doing wellAnother was out when we visited, he is the father of Nehemiah (in red), who is now self-sustaining and overseeing a building gang. When we visited last time we missed him as well and he came across town to say thanks. He is the pastor of the church that has the school these children go to. 

Kaseja (in blue) is a trained teacher and is now trying to find a job. Normally a teacher would have to volunteer at a school, unpaid, for a number of years before they might be given a job. 


Partnership's Influence within the Community

This is a very helpful programme. Most churches, when they send someone to a place like UBS, do not even think about the costs of having a whole family in training. Many churches send with little support at all so it’s very important. Many of the churches that send them are in very hard circumstances. The areas around the Ituri Province have suffered conflict for more than 30 years. With the LRA, influences from South Sudan and rebel movements it’s a tough environment. UBS tries to give the poorest students jobs around the campus rather than hire from outside. This includes library work and security. 

very gratefulMany families express their appreciation for the support. When we met with the Ngezi parents (in photo) they were very thankful. The education of their children is the biggest pressure they face, apart from worry about the unrest. A week ago two families left the area afraid of the violence and they don’t know where they have gone or if they will come back. 

In Cité group many of the families have had their businesses badly affected by the rebel acitivity, especially those with agriculture businesses. Those trading in goods are also affected as they cannot go even 4 kms out of town without fear of being attacked or killed. A number had taxi bike businesses and these have been badly affected as many people with motorbikes have come to Bunia and are trying to make a living as taxi riders. Some children have left the programme and they have been replaced. 


Plans for the Future

The strategy continues to work well. It was great to meet some of those who were currently in secondary school, most of whom are training in education. It was also good to meet Nehemiah who graduated from secondary school as a builder. He is now supervising a construction team and one day hopes to have his own business. 

At the moment the strategy is to support 20 primary school students and five secondary students in each of the three groups plus an additional five secondary students. This seems to be working well. However, costs go up by about 10% per year so an inflation adjustment is probably in order – maybe 25%.

George would love BHW to increase the number of scholarships available but it is hard to know what to do really. There is huge need and a very long line waiting. In an ideal world I would like to add another 10 primary to the Shalom group and another five to the Ngezi group at the inflation adjusted rate. It would also be good to add another 10 secondary. 


Current Issues and Challenges

The instability in the surrounding rural areas is a great threat. The day we arrived news came out that 160 had been butchered in a village about 30 kms out of town. The townspeople have taken to demonstrating to show their disgust that this is continuing. Everyone is frustrated that the UN troops are making no headway against the rebels. Large numbers of soldiers are being flown in and people are hoping a serious attempt will be made to deal with this. The goss on the street is that they know where the rebels are based and could sort it out. However, they don’t know who is behind this group and there are fears that it is the ex-president. So, they have the means but they probably don’t have the will. 

It is very difficult in a situation like UBS to select students as it means you are not selecting others. In this culture, everyone should get the same amount but there are 150 children of students, many of whom need support, so there is just not enough to go around. 

grateful for helpNgezi is a low cost area so those who come into the town gravitate to these areas. There are thousands more children who need help. Many of the kids come to church but few can come to school. The photo shows the secondary students at Ngezi (left to right):
• In form 4 studying education
• Form 4 and another doing education
• Another doing education, they all want to be school teachers
• In form 4 studying construction 


Prayer and Praise Points

1) That children in the most trying circumstances are given a shot at education.
2) That some kids are now coming out the top end and are becoming self-sustaining.
3) That those getting an education will be able to find jobs.
4) That the rebel activity in the rural areas will be dealt with and that many of these poorest of the poor will be able to return to their homes.  



Overall this partnership is helping a lot of people and I think it is time to increase it. However we could put in US$100k and it would not be enough to go round. I wonder if it would be easier to now just put in the amount we think is appropriate and allow George to sort out which groups get what. Our focus would not so much be on the actual number of children but on the amount of money we think is appropriate. We would ask George to put it where the greatest need is and to focus on the most needy. This way we could monitor the increase from year to year in terms of funds we feel are appropriate.