Although the Democratic Republic of Congo is widely considered to be one of the richest countries in the world in terms of natural resources (its untapped deposits of raw minerals are estimated to be worth in excess of US$ 24 trillion), it remains dependent on imports, and local industries are mainly run by foreigners. So the sad paradox is that citizens of the DRC are among the poorest in the world, having the second lowest nominal GDP per capita in 2011 and 2012.
UNICEF estimates that 30,000 children are living on the streets of Kinshasa, as of 2011. And with the burgeoning population growth expected for Kinshasa over the next 10 years, this number could mushroom. This means that not only orphans, but most children living in the village of Kikimi today could end up on the capital’s streets within a year or two if nothing is done to develop the village today.
As the saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Espoir Congo has developed indigenous programs and permanent infrastructure to benefit not only the orphans but assist the community overall. Before Espoir Congo built a primary school in 2010, the children had to study without desks and under a roof made of palm fronds, in a country where the rainy seasons last 9 months out of the year. In 2012, an extra classroom was built to complete the primary school, and new school benches were custom-made for the children.
Prior to opening the medical center, villagers had to travel 5 km on foot to the nearest medical outpost to receive even the most basic treatment and medication. Now basic medical care, treatment and medication is provided free of charge to orphans, and at a nominal fee for village residents.
In 2012 a sanitary block was added to the school. Below on the left is a picture of the former outhouse that was used by the children, and on the right, the lavatory facility built by Espoir Congo.
To increase employability skills for underprivileged single mothers in the village, free vocational training in tailoring as well as literacy classes are provided. Destitute parents are offered a free plot of land to grow vegetables to help them earn a living.
Espoir Congo also set up a water supply system to collect and treat rain water during the prolonged rainy season. This in turn provides running water for the school. Future plans include drilling a bore well, and installing a renewable energy system to generate electricity.
Plans are underway to build a training center for tailoring and hairdressing, and eventually IT training and a library. Employment and training is made available for teachers, nurses and school staff from the village. Espoir Congo hopes to build a maternity/polyclinic in the not too distant future to respond to a pressing need from the village population, particularly women.