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Category Archives: Democratic Republic of the Congo

Gallery

Another way for you to make a difference…

Art news from our nonprofit. So proud of our students and staff. Click through to see the artwork!

 

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My Cause

I hope you have a cause, one that lies heavy on your heart in a good way. The good way is the one that motivates you to move. To make a difference. Even if it is for only this one. This one is yours. Reach out.

My cause is over on the right on my blog page. It is at the bottom of every email I send. Just in case. Someone else my be looking. May be drawn to share this with me and with the others volunteering time and resources for Future Hope Africa.

Africa. I am more likely to watch a report on central Africa than I am to watch a presidential debate. So I share this report, because I’ve been to the lake between Rwanda and DR Congo where our education center is located. I’ve crossed the bridge where armed guards stand wary on both sides.

There are always sides. Yet, there are always places where the two sides may meet…if they dare.

 

Public Transport – Spotted in Africa

Public transport in Africa is fairly diverse. These were just some of the options spotted in East Congo during my trip to our educational mission. Hop on a cargo truck, take a ferry up Lake Kivu, pay the man hanging out of the white bus window, or get through traffic the quickest on the back of a moped. I confess the only one of these options I sampled was the white bus.IMG_0769IMG_0813 IMG_0809

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 Kristin King is an author, publisher and co-founder of the nonprofit Future Hope Africa which is based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She is from Kentucky (USA) and lives as an expat in Holland.

 

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U is for Utilities (Africa)

Gathering rain in...totally did a double take.

Gathering rain in…totally did a double take.

(A to Z Blogs April 2015 – Back to Africa)

My friend warned me, “It’s the rainy season, so the utilities will be a little…you know.”

I didn’t know.

I figured from a previous visit to Congo that if the capital city of Kinshasa lost electricity and water for short durations fairly regularly that being all the way on the other side of the country meant more of that–especially given the season.

Sometimes we were without electricity for longer periods (like hours or maybe half the night), but our hosts had a generator they would run if they or we needed it. We ran the generator at the education center a good bit and went through a lot of gas which bothered me more. Like we were pouring money into a machine when beautiful bight sunshine was all around waiting to be harnessed. A little bummed that solar panels are so expensive, but I understand the need and the benefit in a different way now and am praying for supply.

The great thing about the rainy season is that when the running water stops running, there is still plenty. Our first few nights in East Congo the rain came down and the two 100 gallon(?) drums on each side of the house filled to over flowing by morning. I kind of wondered how many times you wash out a hydrochloric acid drum before you’re confident about drinking its contents, though.

When you travel in Europe you learn to take advantage of the restrooms at your lunch, cafe, snack stop because they aren’t available to anyone but customers. In Congo you learn to hop in the shower if someone says there’s hot water running. Otherwise our kind hosts lugged a 5 gallon bucket of piping hot water from the stove up to the bathroom for us. If I wasn’t doing the #AtoZChallenge for my blog, I would have entitled this “Standing Bath, Sitting Shower.” For bucket bath I find it easier to stand and run water by the cup-fulls as needed from the position where the water covers the most area. For the showers I sat though.

The shower head was what I tend to think of as European since I first saw them here and they are very common. They are the ones with the head mounted on a flexible hose that are terrific when giving the dog or a small child a bath since you can hold it at any angle and get in close where needed. What I don’t get is why they are mounted about a meter (or yard) above the bathtub. To relax under the stream of hot water, to wash out my waist length hair is to sit.

Our timing and schedule being as full as it was, we were mostly standing this trip. Bathing from bucket is not new to us–as my niece pointed out, she used to use the bucket method when visiting her grandparents on the reservation back before they got running water. Used frugally, the bucket had enough in the bottom to turn my head upside down and dunk my hair for one wash and rinse.

It was fine. We adjusted and came home with a greater appreciation of what we have so readily and often take for granted. Still I have to say I am especially grateful to whoever it was that invented “Dry Shampoo” that works for brunettes like us. Thank you!

At some point I told my Congolese friend, “I thought the utilities would be more of a challenge since it’s the rainy season and all.”

She frowned like she didn’t understand and I reminded her about the warning she gave me before arrival. “Oh no,” she said, “things are much better in the rainy season with all the water and everything. I meant to prepare you because it wouldn’t be like what you’re used to.”

Oh. Guess I got it all wrong–and I’ll pack more dry shampoo when I travel next time.

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 Kristin King is an author, publisher and co-founder of the nonprofit Future Hope Africa which is based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She is from Kentucky (USA) and lives as an expat in Holland.

 

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M is for Melodies of Children

(A to Z April Blog Challenge – Back to Africa 2015)

Remember seeing your child sing with a group? Or seeing your niece, nephew, younger sibling? Can’t help but smile and feel my soul rising on the wings of joy. That’s what today is about. Any melody sung out from the hearts of children can do this for us, when we listen with love and delight regardless of ears.

BTW, I’ve not had good luck with technology and thus haven’t posted video before. However, I really wanted M is for Melodies of Children to be a short clip of the children outside our education center in East Congo practicing a song with motions. Here’s the link to visit if the video won’t play in screen here.

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 Kristin King is an author, publisher and co-founder of the nonprofit Future Hope Africa which is based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She is from Kentucky (USA) and lives as an expat in Holland.

 

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L is for Lake Kivu

A walk to the shore of Lake Kivu

A walk to the shore of Lake Kivu

In 10 seconds name as many continental bodies of water as you can that are in Africa…Go!

Honestly it’s not a challenge I rise very well to meet. Now that I’ve visited Lake Kivu, though, I can add another one whose beauty I appreciated first hand. Every morning I rose early (about the birds that made me do it), and found my way to the porch to write while looking over Lake Kivu.

Writing Oasis on Lake Kivu

Writing Oasis on Lake Kivu

The most famous of the African Great Lakes is Victoria, and several people I’ve met asked if I visited Lake Tanganyika when I mention the Rwandan border. Every place around here seems to have connections to the 1994 Rwandan Genocide including this lake, known as a dumping ground for many victims. This is history below the surface, hopefully as well sunken into the past as sediment into Kivu’s 1500+ feet depths.

Here in the heart of Africa is inspiration. When my day kicks off with breakfast, the busy schedule set for me by our mission’s Operations Director will over rule all else. For these early moments, redeemed time from sleep, I long for a kayak.

To skim across the glassy water by the strength of my own two arms.

To discover the shapes of creation in eddies along the shore and reflections of foreign skies and jungle mountains.

To soak the beauty in my skin, taste it in deep calming breaths, and remember the gifts of life and grace.

White buildings of the U.N.  compound cut across a peninsula but don't hide the splendor of the mountains beyond.

White buildings of the U.N. compound cut across a peninsula but don’t hide the splendor of the mountains beyond.

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 Kristin King is an author, publisher and co-founder of the nonprofit Future Hope Africa which is based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She is from Kentucky (USA) and lives as an expat in Holland.

 

 

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K is for Kamologa

Mrs. Kamologa monitoring the fuel supply for the generator that provides our education center electricity.

Ms. Kamologa monitoring the fuel supply for the generator that provides our education center electricity.

(A to Z Blogs April 2015 – Back to Africa)

A huge part of my trip to Africa was meeting the team who works in country, encouraging them, and thanking them. The people like Ms. Kamologa who are the face of our organization, who believe in a brighter future, who are giving every day to make a difference in their community with the help of supporters.

Today it is my pleasure to introduce to you Viviane Munyeruku Kamologa (in blue dress above). Ms. K serves as librarian, receptionist, teacher and cashier for Future Hope Africa since 2009. The team calls her Mama Education @sbl. They told me about her during a meeting dedicated to teaching me what everyone does on the ground in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

She registers the books, knows what supplies we have where, oversees borrowing and return of books.

With the children she knows every child by name, their problems, background and their parents.

A firm presence offering discipline, she is also the one the children go to with any difficulty.

She is open to everyone and is the 1st person people see and interact with because she works the desk at the front door.

She does everything, and is humble, cleans or does whatever work needs to be done.

A flexible, comprehensive worker.

Shelves of books line the longest wall of our education center in an area of Africa where most schools have no library.

Shelves of books line the longest wall of our education center in an area of Africa where most schools have no library.

When FHA began, people like Ms. K worked for what little we had, sometimes receiving some pay, sometimes volunteering, but always doing all she could. Our group of supporters was small, but eventually we were able to pay $50 a month and be regular. Recently we were able to increase most of the team salaries

Although the pay is a great benefit for those with positions at the center, their families, and the community, the drive to accomplish and do “whatever work needs to be done” is the real fuel behind our endeavors. Ms. K embodies that with firm love for the children and caring for their families.

“When we began,” Bintu Mujambere, Operations Director, said, “Vivian frequently held things down alone [at the center] because I could not always be here.”

Because I expressed a desire to see her son, Vivian had the nanny bring him to the center one day. Robust and wanting only to be in his mommy’s arms, I held the squirming fella who still needed guiding hands to walk.

How precious is this child, full of potential. As Vivian K. gave the bus fare to the nanny and sent her son home, the burden of bringing him in to meet me at the center came home to me. How precious is Ms. K who gives so much for all.

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 Kristin King is an author, publisher and co-founder of the nonprofit Future Hope Africa which is based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She is from Kentucky (USA) and lives as an expat in Holland.

 

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J is for Jambo!

Screen Shot 2015-04-10 at 10.50.01 PM(A to Z Blogs April 2015 – Back to Africa)

Language in Africa can both unite and divide at the same time. I saw this in action in East Congo and neighboring Rwanda.

It’s terrific when a lingua franca (i.e. bridge language or language of trade) crosses barriers. Take “Jambo” for instance.  I learn to say this to folks outside our education center. It’s basically “hello” in Swahili and will serve you well in lots of places across Africa (i.e.Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi, Rwanda and Burundi, Somalia, and the Comoro Islands.) Even though Swahili isn’t the language of Ethiopia, I clearly remember people using it there as well. I suspect the greeting is common across many more countries.

Inside Future Hope Africa’s center, I use the French greeting “Bonjour.” The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) was once part of the Belgian Congo (also Zaire) which established French as the country’s language of interaction with the western world. Within the country, though, it draws a dividing line between those who are educated, and those who are not. And how well someone speaks French can give an employer, or anyone else, a measure of the person’s level of education.

Screen Shot 2015-04-10 at 10.51.48 PMIf you’re a local and happen to speak English very well, you might be Rwandan. Since the town in which we’re located is right on the border. Crossing in and out of the 2 countries the languages create a demarkation as clear as the river–an impediment that may be crossed with the right effort and know how. However, many folks from East Congo fled the over-flooding genocide of the 90’s to places where English was spoken, and a good number of others have studied English. Again, it’s a mark of education.

But if you think you can come as an aid worker with your French and reach people, you might be wrong. For example, one young woman who came to our education center out of curiosity ran away when she was greeted and asked a question in French. Later she explained that she was “ashamed” because she could not understand what she was being asked. After hearing about her, I switched to using “Jambo” the most. We want to make connections across the world and draw people in rather than drive them away.

Poignant to me, we interviewed two newly sponsored students (about 4th and 5th grade/year) in French so we could send their sponsoring family a video thank-you-get-to-know-you. When we asked their parents if they would like to say a few words, they were all eagerness…except that they could not speak French, only Swahili.

That’s when it really struck me how language can even divide a family. What does a mother feel when she does not understand what her child is saying? In this case, I think it was hope, because those French words in combination with the funds to continue school could mean a better tomorrow for her daughter.

Then, with my soul-sister’s family, I tackled another langauge. I always thought Swahili was Bintu’s first language, the one she used at home growing up. Turns out I was right and wrong. Her family’s group language is Mashi and fairly wide-spread in the area I visited. When I used this with her family, they laughed and laughed to hear this local tongue from mine. Rather than separating us, though, they embraced my efforts and nodded with understanding at how Bintu and I became family.

Visit Future Hope Africa for more information about our mission.

Visit Future Hope Africa for more information about our mission.

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 Kristin King is an author, publisher and co-founder of the nonprofit Future Hope Africa which is based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She is from Kentucky (USA) and lives as an expat in Holland.

 

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E is for Education Is Life

Reading to two young gals at our center. My French was so poor, one of them took over for me.

Reading to two young gals at our center. My French was so poor, one of them took over for me.

(A to Z Blogs April 2015 – Back to Africa)

Zawdi

Mujinga

Visiting the education mission to encourage and support, that’s what my trip to Africa was about. Whether it’s French, math, hygiene, dental care or home finances, if there’s a teacher willing to teach the subject we do it. If there are funds to sponsor girls, we keep them in school. And now one boy too. A micro-loan for a young woman to help her work through University.

Zawdi

Mujinga

Perhaps the best insight is from one of our Princesses, one of our youth students. Evaline says:

For me this is not just an organization. It is a place of refuge, a light. Education is life. I remember the first time I cam here, all we talked about, the activities we did. That has changed my life very much. That’s why I come, because I hope it will do big things for other people too. In other places…those are corrupt. But here  light is on–here we have hope to put things back right.

Zawdi and Mujinga may not have meant anything to me before, but now I see them. See these two girls doing their studies, finding a refuge at our center in East Congo, and needing whatever we can offer them at Future Hope Africa.

Zawdi

Mujinga

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 Kristin King is an author, publisher and co-founder of the nonprofit Future Hope Africa which is based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She is from Kentucky (USA) and lives as an expat in Holland.

Visit Future Hope Africa

Visit Future Hope Africa

 

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Congo Christmas – Dr. King Presents

Congo Christmas – Dr. King Presents

Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 11.07.06 PMBearing the name of someone renown once imbued a sense of hope to many parents, though Martin is not in the top 100 of any name rankings of which I know.  On a recent list from Nameberry.com’s most popular names in the US, which goes all the way to the 1000th name, Martin ranks 263rd. Other historical names one might think popular include: Washington (doesn’t rank), Jefferson (#609), Jackson (#16), Lincoln (#95), Kennedy (#64 for girls), Reagan (104th for girls, 960th for boys), Madison (#9 for girls) and Franklin (495#) have all become common.

Having earned my doctorate, the history rich name I bear is Dr. King. And as I presented certificates of training upon which I signed that name during my Congo Christmas trip, I reflected on our pursuits at FHA Education ASBL and thought that what we were doing would have pleased Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We see educational gaps and inequalities and do whatever little things we can to help folks pursue their dreams.

Proud of our training certificate recipients

Proud of our training certificate recipients

What our educational mission in east Congo does goes beyond the student tutoring, training teachers, and disciplining youth, to providing what the local schools lack including a library, music lessons, and art. We respond to the needs that arise on the ground in country. When one young woman could not afford the bus fare from work to make it on time to her classes, we helped with a micro-loan so she could earn her way and begin growing a small business. Another young woman was never able to complete school but still dreamt of becoming a tailor, and we allotted a sponsorship for the apprenticeship she entered a few months ago.

And those I had the privilege of honoring just after Christmas completed school without ever receiving the practical skills to write resumes, engage in interviewing, and do other things necessary to successfully getting the professional jobs they seek. As I apply my signature on documents for our organization, I aspire to continue to give the name dignity and to honor the man most people remember when they hear someone say “Dr. King.”

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Dr. Kristin F. Chaudoin King is a Christian author and president of the non-profit Future Hope Africa. She recently returned from  visiting FHA’s education mission in eastern Congo and is blogging from her travel journal about the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

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