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Tag Archives: Africa Education

Our Princesses in Congo

Our Princesses in Congo

Beyond #AtoZChallenge – Back to Africa

I couldn’t locate these photos when I blogged about our young ladies in “P is for Princess” but I still wanted to share these terrific gals who are part of our mentoring club or school sponsorship in East Congo. Our nonprofit, Future Hope Africa has already made a brighter day working together with these students. –Dr. Kristin King, President and Chief Hugger for FHA.

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Some of the FHA Princesses who are continuing their education thanks to sponsorship.

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Two students whose friendship was torn apart in the past and then reconciled in the Club Princesses. Their testimony will be coming to a new Future Hope Africa youtube channel in the future.

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A young woman who was forced to end her schooling a number of years ago, but she is now learning the trade of tailoring thanks to sponsors through Future Hope Africa.

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God’s Princesses are never too young to find they are welcome at FHA’s Education Center in East Congo.

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Posted by on May 2, 2015 in Other

 

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T is for Tailor in Africa

(#AtoZChallenge April 2015 – Back to Africa)

Our hosts' daughter was coming home from a wedding the day we arrived. Wow!

Our hosts’ daughter was coming home from a wedding the day we arrived. Wow!

One of the most delightful souvenirs you can bring back from the Congo is a new outfit. Choose from hundreds of fabric options at the textile market. Then visit the tailor and choose from hundreds of dress styles. Mix and match skirts with tops. Bring a shirt you like the fit of and have the tailor make you another in fabric of your choice.

My favorite outfit from DR Congo.

My favorite outfit from DR Congo.

When picked up our younger sons a few years ago, we had matching shirts made for all the guys and a coordinating skirt for me. The family picture we took that year is the one from which I cropped my head-shot for all social media. Talk about a terrific Christmas card photo!

Tailoring is also big business in a culture where special events like weddings, anniversaries and honoring fests may see every member of the family getting the same fabric and having an outfit made for the gala. Seriously–sometimes there might be a 100+ people getting things made for the big event.

 

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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.

Forced to quit school years ago, this young woman is now training to be a tailor thanks to sponsors through Future Hope Africa.

Forced to quit school years ago, this young woman is now training to be a tailor thanks to sponsors through Future Hope Africa.

A shot of just one booth at the fabric market.

A shot of just one booth at the fabric market.

 
 

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P is for Princess Club

IMG_0495(A to Z Blogs April 2015 – Back to Africa)

When I write about the Congo, the Princesses come up often. Usually I refer to them without comment or explanation. Like when they exclaimed about my eating, or when I quoted one saying “Education Is Life.” Describing who they are is not so simple.

At first they were among early entrants to our education center. Some were sponsored by our Belgian grant to attend school. Several helped with VBS for the children (vacation bible school) during the summer. Several are featured on our website homepage photo. One has become our Operations Director’s assistant.

The simple answer is to say we have two groups of Princesses with some overlap. The first group is those who are sponsored to go to school. They are in the Princess Program. The second group is the Princess Club which is made up of girls and young women who come together at the education center for everything from movie night (my shock here) to hygiene classes to discipleship.

Why Princesses? As children of God (the King of Kings) all the students are important, valuable, and either a prince or a princess. While the Prince Club has just started, the Princesses are ready to change the world.

Here’s what they say via translation:

Most of what we learn here is not learned other places. We learn how to face life, how to be ourselves. And personally I would like this learning to follow us all our life. In the future we won’t be here like we are now. Some have gone to study, other will take other commitments for life. Wherever we go we hope to be like stars that never lose their life.

We don’t learn for ourselves alone–we learn for others. I would like to see and hear wherever each goes that we are a good testimony. Women on which the world, the church, our families can count. And transfer that to the community. Because communities are suffering. (Evalyne)

From here I go back to University (in Kenya). So much is corrupt. Many people and girls are very different, do things I know are not good for us, as Princesses. We have learned to stand. (Carmel)

When we started Education ASBL it was difficult. We worked hard with all our hearts b/c what we are doing is important. One thing that’s helped alot of children is we didn’t pay attention to social classes. We treated all the children the same. Children who wouldn’t appear before others, here we welcomed and treated the same. For me, I can’t stop thanking God for Education ASBL. (Odette)

How can anything I write top that?

One additional thing I cherish about our work together is that it is grass-roots. I may be the president of the board, but the Princess Club was begun by four students who worked at VBS, relaxed by Lake Kivu sitting in the grass and the idea (homepage photo).

Someone in the US donated a guitar, but it was a young man at the center who picked it up and said, “I’ll teach the children music classes”–and he did and wants to do more.

It’s the Princesses who decided to write a handbook for the club to pass on to younger people, for others to take to university. They have the ideas and do the work, and we support them.

Many organizations could not work with this sort of flexibility. Perhaps we are able because we are small. But we also see God’s direction in what He lays before us, the opportunities that grow organically as we reach into community.

It is always amazing me, and never more so than when I visited East Congo.

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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 for more information about our mission.

Visit Future Hope Africa for more information about our mission.

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2015 in A to Z Blog, East Congo, Travel

 

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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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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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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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