Thank you so much for your emotional and financial support of my work in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). My commitment to serving the vulnerable people and orphans has deepened and matured. Yes, I plan on returning for a longer stay as soon as possible. Please “follow” me on Twitter at @rnforcongo.
To summarize what was achieved with your support: I spoke at dozens of churches in North and South Kivu telling the people that I am just one American but many more people here care about their struggles and send their message of friendship.
I met hundreds of orphans and at every chance asked them to shout, “I am important!”…on the count of three.
I continue my work in Congo and at home as missionary representative for the Union of Independent Churches that has a close relationship to federal level government officials.
I am now Project Manager for two partnered humanitarian organizations: UGADEC gorilla conservation and REACH Italia who operates Rwese and other orphan projects.
We have been able to launch the beginning of three important projects.
1. Shipping Container Project: In the US I will start the coordination of donated medical supplies, food, school supplies, shoes, vitamins, mosquito nets, powdered milk and baby supplies. My coworkers in Congo will begin the process of obtaining legal documents and shipping funds from the Congolese government. These will be distributed to nine schools and ten clinics as a start.
With an American on staff as Project Manager, my organizations have vastly improved potential to receive funding and in-kind assistance from large non-profits such as UNICEF, United Nations Humanitarian Projects, World Food Program, World Vision and many others.
2. Project Ex-Pat (Ex patriots refer to the individuals that desire to visit Congo and join in the work) We will organize logistical and VISA assistance for others who want to visit Congo as volunteers or missionaries.
3. Clean Water Project: for Rwese Orphanage (called children’s village) we will raise funds and solicit partnerships to establish clean drinking water through rainwater catchments and storage systems.
Donation funds were distributed to several different locations.
$100 to Minova orphanage and separate caregiver for four month old orphan who’s mother died during childbirth (see Footprint Foundation). We purchased rice, sorghum flower, bread, powdered milk and sugar. (and delivered clothes, sweaters, dresses, jeans brought in excess baggage.) Caregiver was given a box of pencils to sell to raise more money. 38 children plus one infant.
$100 of groceries to group of 13 orphan children in Beni for firewood, cooking oil, potatoes, beans, and cassava flour.
$100 of groceries to mountaintop Rwese orphanage with 78 children. Cassava flour, potatoes, rice, beans. Also delivered more clothes, dresses, baby cloths, caps, colored pencils, drawing paper, color crayons, large quantity of pencils donated by Mike Carpenter, and arithmetic flashcards.
$75 dollars in excess baggage fees for non-food items listed above.
$85 for Congo VISA. Paid $285 for a seven day VISA at entry…$200 reimbursed by Union of Independent Churches. And free six month VISA provided by Department of Immigration.
$100 (Two $50) Visas for transit through Uganda.
$50 bus fare to my friend Dr. Kalondi who rode six hours to see me for one evening and return to his new job the next day.
$6-10/day for food while I stayed in Goma. $.50 per trip on motorcycle taxi for daily transportation.
Friendship Jewelry Project: Distributed Friendship Jewelry Gifts everywhere I went. A friend gave jewelry to women with breast cancer who have no chance of treatment in Congo. I gave earrings to women during local travel to churches. I gave gifts to women who were volunteer teachers at schools for orphans. Caregivers at Rwese Orphanage received jewelry gifts and one male caregiver received a necktie. They work 24/7 nurturing the children, cooking, cleaning, feeding and hand wash all laundry without running water and receive salaries of $100/month. Everyone was told the jewelry came from American women that wanted to express their support.
We took photographs of children and their drawings at Rwese and Beni orphanages for future here on my blog for the purpose of potential donations, sponsorships or adoptions. I wanted to give them a voice and show their individuality.
I passed along the lessons I received in Social Media to groups of pastors and my gorilla conservation team to assist them with fund raising for their many projects such as; women’s empowerment in business, feeding programs, orphanages, orphan schools, apartments and counseling for survivors of rape and their children, and a clinic. My star pupil at UGADEC Conservation Project began email correspondence with the Director of Expeditions at National Geographic his first month!
I facilitated a meeting and partnership between friends Frederick and Zachary and the Union of Churches to enable them to expand their Community Center for people with disabilities from Rwanda into DR Congo.
During a visit to Frederick’s Ubumwe Center I had a “chance” meeting with wildlife conservationist and TV personality Jack Hanna. We have followed up with an invitation for him to visit the gorillas in Congo. Our dream would be to have him film the gorillas in Congo for American television audiences.
I spent time in the company of many people who love what I love…and therefore loved me. It is not possible to convey here how much genuine care and appreciation I received. In short…my trip was amazing, indescribable and wonderful. Thank you.
…and yes…I DID finally see my beloved gorillas.
I will always be recruiting supporters for these projects. If you want to help but don’t know how…just contact me. Anything and everything you do even as a hobby can be used to support DR Congo. If you think you might want to go to Congo…let me know…I now have great friends and contacts there who will make you welcome. I’m still collecting (non-used) prescription glasses, good condition closed toed children’s shoes, all baby supplies except furniture, and unused women’s jewelry. Thanks again.