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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!

Future Hope Africa Blog

Our in country director, Bintu, is always on the lookout for ways to improve the education of children, youth and adults in Bukavu, DR Congo. When she visited our home in Holland last year, we took her on a tour of the first-class international school our sons attend. Most of the decor in the school is student art blown up on huge canvases or framed originals. An idea was born.

An American artist friend here heard about our education center and asked, “What about art supplies? Could you use those?”

“Yes!” A generous gift of two stacks of stretched canvases went into my suitcase my next Congo visit, and now you can see some of the results. Small but delightful, these pieces are featured at our center to tell the world how proud we are of our students, the team that supports them, and how a little goes a long…

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Your #VBS vs. #Congo VBS Pt 2 – Facilities

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 9.59.40 PM

(Written by me and originally posted on our nonprofit’s blog)

Your Vacation Bible School:

– is probably run by your church or chapel and held at those facilities.

– the classrooms used are the same ones used for Sunday School and Life Groups.

– the tables & chairs are rearranged and everything decorated.

– the church kitchen is snack central.

– the sanctuary is the site for opening and closing ceremonies using the sound system.

– you pray for good weather so game time can be held outside in the grassy areas around your building.

This is how I remember VBS in the US, but it’s not like that in the Congo.

Vacation Bible School is actually a bit of a foreign concept in many parts of the world including east DR Congo. The churches do not put VBS together.

Bintu, our Operations Director, volunteered and worked many Vacation Bible Schools while attending international churches in Europe. She saw what a fantastic program this is for children, and returned to Congo determined to provide children there with this special summer time learning about God.

So it is not a church that does VBS, it is our very own Future Hope Africa folks who put this all together. Although we rent a small building from the church next door to use for our Tutoring Center, we do not have access to numerous classrooms. Our facility has only one room which can only be divided into two sections.

Facilities we often take for granted in the US and joyfully fill to capacity each summer aren’t available in Congo without going out into the community to find, negotiate the use of, and rent a place.

Previously we had to turn children away from VBS, because we just could not fit anymore in our building. This year our FHA team found a school willing to rent to us for a very small feel, because they’re willing to help support our summer program.

There are so few productive activities for the children of Congo when school is not in session. During my visit I saw no parks, no YMCA or recreation areas. In fact, the church and school next door to our Tutoring Center had no grass. Classrooms opened on barren ground and some of them had no doors. The long row benches could not easily be rearranged.

Was there a kitchen? Not at our building. Only one lone sink in the single restroom for almost 60 children.

Our team has organized this summer’s VBS to take place at the local school, rotating through classrooms and operating a little more like you and I see in our communities. It is a fabulous blessing! This blessing of space so that we can have three times as many children this year. With helpers and children, we are touching 200 lives. Your prayers and gifts make this expansion possible.

We only have 7 days left for our crowdfunding campaign and every gift is currently being matched.

Click here and check out our crowdfunding page:
https://razoo.com/us/story/Congo-Vbs-2016

Please think of us as you reflect on your VBS this summer and please share about Congo VBS with your church family and friends on Facebook, in email and other social media.

Thank you so very much for your support.

________

Only 5 days left for crowdfunding and a couple pledges have come in getting us closer to our goal. Thank you! –Kristin

 
 

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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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I is for Insects – Malaria and Meds

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

Lifecycle of the Malaria Parasite from Nature.com

Life cycle of the Malaria Parasite from Nature.com

While everyone back home was worried over ebola during our trip, insects were my primary concern, specifically mosquitoes. Malaria killed 70 times more people in Africa last year than Ebola although the former preventable if we just got rid of most of the mosquitoes that carry it the way we have in the US. I’m digressing, though, and don’t want to get on a soapbox.

Mosquitoes come in various shapes and sizes, and all sorts of rumors abound about these insects. I’ve heard the large ones are female and don’t bite. Was told the buzzing one that gave me a terrible night’s sleep wasn’t the right kind. How did that parasite get under my blanket and why is s/he so intent on scoring blood from my ear lobe?

We prepared the best way we knew how with medication to prevent malaria. Start taking it before the trip as directed, best at same time each day during the trip, and keep taking it two weeks after homecoming. It takes at least that long to let go of the worry that you’ll begin to show the flu-like symptoms.

Jaime's bites were always more red than this, but it does show what her skin looked like. (Photo: LOLO FROM TAHITI on flickr)

Jaime’s bites were always more red than this, but it does show what her skin looked like. (Photo: LOLO FROM TAHITI on flickr)

My niece is a mosquito magnet and slightly allergic. Once when she was small and spent about 30 minutes playing outside with the hose, she came in with dozens of welts from bites just on her short arms and legs. Outside at the same time, I had none. So I wanted her to have the best anti-malarial, malarone, which is more expensive but only needed 2 days before, 7 days after, and doesn’t make your skin sun sensitive.

My husband took piles of doxycycline during his army deployments with no (known) ill effect, and mefloquine was my choice on one previous Africa trip. Mefloquine gave me weird dreams, though, and according to my doctor, makes some people homicidal. Seriously? Still, you only have to take that one once a week.

For myself this trip, doxycycline was the choice with its proven track record for my system. Sure I was more likely to get sun damaged skin, but preventing that is old school. Medication wise, I also traveled with loperamide (in case the fruit or such struck me wrong) and ciprofloxacin (in case sickness really takes over). We also had up to date vaccinations for yellow fever, hep a, hep b, typhoid, and even rabies. That pup might be a stray, even so, you know I’m going to try to pet the cutie.

Back to insects. Although mosquitoes are the worst, there are others to think about. Perhaps to distract yourself, contemplate the Top 10 Deadliest Insects and note that the TseTse fly is a African native as is the Saifu (African ant). Seen those green grainy videos of ants attacking someone in their sleep? Probably was one of these. Made me grateful for our clean accommodations in my friends’ home. Note to self, no camping in Africa for me.

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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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Posted by on April 10, 2015 in A to Z Blog, East Congo, Travel

 

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G is for Gates (Congo Security)

Rebar view from inside our education mission.

Rebar view from inside our education mission.

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

Alone in our room, my niece and I stay up late talking. At one point there is a lull and my gaze rests on the window, the screen, the metal frame built around the glass and the bars outside. Gates and bars are everywhere. In the US a “bad” neighborhood is sometimes recognizable by such additions. If we keep thinking that way, all of this East Congo city we’re visiting appears to be the bad neighborhood.

Every property a gate, every window with bars, every gate a guard. Security? The rebar view of life.

The decorative window bars on our room.

The decorative window bars on our room.

“The bars should make me feel secure,” I say to my niece. “Instead the need for the bars makes me a little anxious.”

“Yeah,” she says. “I was thinking the same thing. It made me wonder if I was going to wake in the middle of the night to someone trying to get in.”

“No,” I say.

We play a game on my iPad and talk till midnight. Then we both sleep very well.

Solid metal gate, though most I saw were dark and had one small section that opened for the guard or folks on foot.

Solid metal gate, though most I saw were dark and had one small section that opened for the guard or folks on foot.

______________________

 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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