Working with street children, helping them to have hope for their future.
I am coordinating the Kimbilio mission project in the Anglican Church of Congo in the Diocese of Katanga.
We provide food and lodging and teach maths, French, Christian education, tailoring, sports, arts, music and dance. In all this, we are giving street children a sense of self-worth and hope for the future, which keeps them from ending up back on the streets. I coordinate the work of all five Kimbilio centres with my colleagues and lead a team of 20 carers.
Since the end of 1992, Lubumbashi – the second largest city in the Democratic Republic of Congo – has seen its streets flooded by children, as war and economic hardship have torn families apart. There are approximately 3,000 street children in the city, and they live a very different life from other children, forced to fend for themselves and seek out money wherever they can.
I first felt the call to work among young people at the age of 15, when I became a Christian. I worked with young people at various levels, initially within my parish, then within the deanery, archdeaconry, diocese and wider province of the Anglican Church of Congo. In 2003, I received a training scholarship from Church Mission Society to study for a certificate in youth ministry at Carlile College in Nairobi, Kenya, for a year. After this training, I returned to my role as diocesan youth work coordinator and administrator of the Boys’ and Girls’ Brigade for the whole of DR Congo. I worked alongside Judy Acheson, a former CMS mission partner, and Bisoke Balikenga, a fellow CMS local partner.
I was also with Ian Harvey, a former CMS mission partner, at the start of the adventure that led to the creation of the Kimbilio project. I was involved in the initial planning meeting in 2007 with Ian and it was my idea to call the project “Kimbilio” which means place to go for refuge. Today, I am excited to use my background in youth work to help many street children, to lead the team and to manage the Kimbilio project, which is growing up and becoming more and more a big family of children and carers.