Children/Teens Make Necklaces To Pay For School Fees
In the Eastern part of DR Congo, only 40% of the children have a chance to go to school because the parent/caregiver can’t afford to pay school fees. One of our projects uses art to both heal and help children get the funds they need to go to school. As part of our grief therapy, the children make drawings about the death, pain, grief, violence and horror that they have experienced but also about their hopes and wishes for the future. They then use this material to make beautiful necklaces.
Every Tuesday and Friday after school some of the children/teens work on this art project. We ask for a donation of $10 for one of these necklaces, and the money goes into a scholarship fund for the kids.
Currently, the organization See Beautiful™ offers beads, bracelets, t-chirts, and other items, some made by the children of New Hope, on their website as part of their New Hope Collection. A portion of the money raised by the sale of these items goes to fund school fees. This is a great way to make a difference in the children's lives. For more information about this project, please contact us.
Necklaces made by children/teens from paper drawings about their grief
Photo courtesy of See Beautiful™
Micro Credit Loans for Vulnerable and Poor Women
New Hope Center is also reaching out to vulnerable and poor women, some of whom are rape victims, and their kids in our community, by training people to work with them. Widows and rape victims are not always supported by their community. With their husband gone, widows must support and care for their family on their own. Frequently, husbands of rape victims refuse to stay with a wife who has been raped and who may now have HIV. Most rape victims need medical help, but they may live far from a medical clinic or cannot afford it.
How can these women survive and get on with their lives? One way is to make bags of plastic strapping tape and then sell them. To help these women New Hope Center also has a micro loan program. As the women start out they get $25, after four more months $50 and after another four months they get $100. This is a tremendous help to the women. They’ll be able to pay some of their children’s school fees themselves and also eat better. If you would like to learn more about this and how you can help please contact us.
This woman is able to support herself selling bags she made with the help of a micro credit loan.
Wood Shop for Former Child Soldiers
New Hope Center is reaching out to former child soldiers who have often experienced a lot of grief as they have seen family members killed, mothers and sisters raped, and they themselves forced to join an armed militia or chose to do so as a way of seeking revenge. These young people are in our grief support groups, but we also try to help them reintegrate back into society and return to their home villages.
How do we do this? For those who wish to stay in school we try hard to pay their school fees. We make sure that especially the girls stay in school. In December 2010 we set up a simple wood shop in a village, and now twelve former child soldiers are learning to become carpenters. They have a good teacher-mentor and have already started to sell furniture they make. In time, we hope to provide a kit for those who want to continue on and set up their own carpentry business. When these kids/teens are involved in school or learning a trade it makes it harder for the army to come and recruit them.
Unfortunately, this area has been occupied by various rebel groups who have stolen some of the equipment and materials. If you would like to help to replace these items or help us set up a wood shop in other place, please contact us.
"Hands on" Education
The directors of two elementary schools have allowed 120 orphans to study for free. This is unusual and shows real compassion for kids. New Hope Center trained one of them, and he has organized grief groups in his school.
After learning about this, NHC decided to help put roofs on two classrooms in each school with the promise that the orphans could continue to study for free. The parents/caregivers participated in building the walls that you see behind the kids. This was an unusual but practical way that NHC could help the orphans and also make it possible to enroll more kids in the school and engage more teachers as well. There are many schools that need this kind of help.
Former child soldiers attending school (above) and learning how to become carpenters (below).
Orphans and their caregivers help build a wall for their school in exchange for free education
Electricity and a Computer Lab
After four years of hard work and with the generous help of different people we finally have electricity at the center! This is a tremendous help. It makes the place more secure, and we are able to pump water from the lake to the center. The electric generator we installed also provides electricity for about 100 houses around NHC. This is another way in which we are reaching out to our immediate community.
Because we have electricity, we can now expand and start other activities. We have set up a computer lab, which we hope in time will bring in some income to the center. Our dream is to set up Internet connectivity, which is lacking in this area. We estimate that the installation would cost $2000–$2500, and then $200–$300/month for the internet service. A young Congolese technician will help with this project, but we also count on the help of others like you to make it possible. If you are interested in contributing or would like more information about this project, please contact us.
NHC has electricity and running water pumped from the nearby lake (above). Students learn computer basics in our computer lab (below).
Basketball Court - 2014
A basketball court was put in at New Hope Center in 2014. The youth in our community, who come from different high schools and universities in the area, have really appreciated this new addition to the neighborhood. Some of them do not go to school because they are unable to pay their school fees. Before we installed the court, these aspiring basketball players had to walk 2.5 miles to the nearest basketball court, which did not give them very much time to play. They are very happy to come to New Hope Center, as it is close to where they live, and they get to meet others in their neighborhood.
We feel it is important to reach out to our community and get to know our neighbors. By facilitating physical activity and team sports, we hope to help these young people foster friendships, learn cooperation and teamwork, and make healthy, new memories in a place that is haunted by recent memories of war and violence. Construction of this basketball court was made possible by a generous grant from donors in Sweden.
Youth from the NHC community hone their skills and make new friends on our new basketball court.
Ongoing Projects in Villages Outside of Goma
NHC continues to provide aid and support to the village of Buvunga, about 35 miles northeast of Goma, and the surrounding area. We have a satellite grief program in Buvunga. This area has been frequently attacked by rebel groups. The people in this area are very poor and have been traumatized by the war.
In September 2014, we were able to provide 300 school uniforms to children in Buvunga and two other nearby villages. Children are not allowed to attend school unless they have the proper uniforms. This educational opportunity was made possible by a grant from donors in Sweden and the USA.
Also in September 2014, we provided 150 households, many of whom are widows/widowers, in Buvunga and two nearby villages with gardening equipment, which had been stolen by the rebels during the war. These families were unable to buy new equipment because they are so poor. We provided them with machetes to clear the dense underbrush and hoes to till their gardens. We also gave them seeds so that they could plant nourishing food for their families.
Grief Support Training Seminar for Pastors
In July 2014, we held a Grief Support Training training seminar for 21 pastors and church leaders. Practically everyone in the Congo has experienced some kind of loss or knows someone who has died as a result of the war. Our goal during the conference was to give these leaders the tools they need to help grieving and traumatized children, teens, and adults.
The feedback we received after the training was very positive. These community leaders felt that the training we provided was different from other seminars they had attended because it was very practical. All of them felt that the skills they learned would be very helpful in their work. We hope to have two more trainings like this one in 2015. This seminar was made possible by a generous grant from Hilfe für Brüder in Germany.
New school uniforms and gardening tools help struggling families near Buvunga.
Pastors and church leaders learn skills to help grieving and traumatized children, teens and adults.