Until a primary school was built in Kikimi, the orphaned and impoverished community children had no alternative but to learn in very precarious conditions at the local open-air “school” (shown at left below), with its primitive and tiny office (as shown below, at right).
In a country where it rains 9 months out of the year, you can only imagine how difficult it must be for children to study when their open-air school only has dry palm fronds for a roof.
In 2010, Espoir Congo completed the first primary school building, featuring two large classrooms, a clinic/dispensary and an outside terrace. Above are photos of the new school nearing its final completion stages. This was to become by far the grandest structure in the village.
The school’s opening ceremony was a landmark event for this rural and somewhat isolated village of 5000 residents.
Each of the students was presented with their own school uniforms, backpacks and school supplies.
In order to be successful in life, and to enhance their future higher education or job opportunities, students must learn French. (Most of them only speak Lingala at home.) Teachers begin introducing students to read and write in French, although local textbooks and teachers manuals are not readily available in the DRC and and locating proper French textbooks remains easier said than done.
Interviews and an aptitude test were used for recruiting primary school teachers. In collaboration with the Belgian government, teacher training was organized at the regional education department.
The necessary school equipment and furniture was donated, including desks, shelves, books, and blackboards.
In 2012 a third classroom (above) was built, enabling the school to operate as a complete primary school with six grades. Grades 1-3 study in the mornings and the higher grades in the afternoons.
A sanitary block was also built, the roof was fixed, and water cisterns added to collect rain water, providing clean “running” water for the 9 months of the school year, in a village where all the residents haul water from a nearby stream.
In July 2012, the first graduation ceremony was held, along with the inauguration of the new 3rd classroom.
The school is not only providing these children with a solid educational foundation and improved chances in life, it has also enhanced the quality of life in this village by supplying employment for teachers, nurses and construction workers.
Tailoring classes are held for young unwed mothers and the older orphaned girls. These classes began in the open air, but as of September 2013 they are held in a training center, where hairdressing is also taught.
Next, Espoir Congo hopes to also build a library to enhance the children’s education and provide resources for teachers; as well as an IT room for computer literacy.
Could you help with a donation?
$100 would cover the school fees for one child for one school year, or buy uniforms for 5 children.
$150 would cover vocational training fees for one girl for one school year.
$200 would pay one teacher’s salary for one month.
$500 would cover school supplies for one year.
$1000 would allow the school to be repainted once a year.
$2400 would pay one teacher's salary for a year.