Serving God's People in Africa since 1868

Help Build a Training Center for Children in Democratic Republic of Congo

Whenever we begin a new year, many of us often commit to making changes in our lives — changes to make ourselves healthier, or more disciplined, or to be more frugal in our spending. Some of my friends have made plans to lose weight this year. Others are vowing to spend more time exercising. But all too often, our New Year’s resolutions are more focused on how we treat ourselves than on how we treat others. Some would suggest, though, that focusing on others first will in turn make us better human beings.


“If you continue to use the labor of children as the treatment for the social disease of poverty, you will have both poverty and child labor to the end of time.”

Grace Abbott, Social Worker (1878-1939)

Whenever we begin a new year, many of us often commit to making changes in our lives — changes to make ourselves healthier, or more disciplined, or to be more frugal in our spending. Some of my friends have made plans to lose weight this year. Others are vowing to spend more time exercising. But all too often, our New Year’s resolutions are more focused on how we treat ourselves than on how we treat others. Some would suggest, though, that focusing on others first will in turn make us better human beings.

Recently, I received a letter from one of our priests, Fr. Gilbert Bujiriri. Fr. Gilbert works in the Central Africa Province of the Missionaries of Africa which includes the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Life continues to be exceptionally hard for the people in that region of Africa — especially for children. In fact, conditions for children there are so difficult that — according to the United Nations’ children’s agency, UNICEF — about 40,000 of the DRC’s children work in cobalt and gold mines.

Working underground in shifts lasting as long as 24 hours, these children earn less than $2 a day — some even less than that.

Human rights’ groups that have witnessed the plight of the children forced into labor report that the working conditions in the Congolese mines are miserable. Many children are often physically impaired as a result. There are whole excavations which they dig up with their bare hands using machetes as spades. Conditions in some of the mines are so bad that at times the children are buried alive when the mines cave in.

“Many of the young people work in the mines like slaves,” Fr. Gilbert explains. “They receive almost nothing for the painful and dangerous work they do. The future for them is very grim — without hope of a long and productive life. Many turn to alcoholism and prostitution resulting in various diseases.”

“But there is a project in Kamituga that is providing outreach to children who often see the mines as the only place where they can earn money,” Fr. Gilbert continues. “The program is taking boys and girls — who otherwise might not survive — and providing them training for jobs in carpentry and plumbing, in mechanics and other skilled trades. After they receive the necessary training, these young people can get jobs that will provide them with a livable wage that will allow them to marry and raise a family.”

“Our diocese is paying for the materials for the buildings that the new Training Center will need,” his letter concludes. “We also need to purchase equipment to be used in the training programs and other essentials for the classrooms. I am hoping that you can help in some way.”

Along with his letter, Fr. Gilbert included photographs showing the progress already being made in the construction of the building of the Training Center. The land has been cleared and many of the local people are volunteering their time and the labor needed to make the buildings a reality. What a blessing these good people are for the children who need them!

There is so much we can do to help children and young people who need hope for a better future! In our own communities, we can help by volunteering to be a mentor for at-risk youth. We could even volunteer to read to children at a local library or community center. Education and literacy are a huge part of creating better lives for young people.

I also hope that you will send a donation to help us raise at least $32,500 to support the new Training Center in Kamituga as well as other projects that provide outreach to children in poor communities throughout Africa. Whatever amount you can send will be used to help continue the work of the Missionaries of Africa — particularly this year as we celebrate our 150th anniversary! God bless you for your continued kindness and generosity.

 

Your Missionary Friend,

Denis P. Pringle
Director of Development