Since 2002, I have dedicated myself to helping educate girls in the D.R. Congo.
In that year, I visited Goma, a city previously ravaged by years of spillover from the Rwandan Genocide, and more than a decade of continuous tragic warfare; a volcanic eruption had just engulfed a third of the city. Lycée Amani, an elite girls’ Science Secondary School since 1960, illustrated the calamity that this country has suffered. I was distraught that girls had to drop from school because parents could not pay seven dollars a month for tuition! But, these girls’ thirst for education and resilience, daring to do whatever it takes to attend school, remains.
Upon my return, I mobilized my friends, my students and, my fellow parishioners and started sending funds through a modest Congolese non-profit organization. That organization has ceased to exist and now the project was folded into EduCorps, a non-profit organization for teachers coaching that, two years ago, two friends, one being my former Peace Corps volunteers from D.R. Congo, and I helped to start. As in the past, there are no administrative charges; one hundred percent of your contributions will go directly to the girls for tuition and a meal a day.
Today, we are helping thirty girls just in secondary school; those who finish with distinction are funded through college. As of today, we have five young women in college. Recently, some graduated: one as an engineer, another in business, and two doctors in medicine.
My dream is to extend this program to other girls’ schools in the region. In addition, since many girls have few productive options when school is not in session, EduCorps will also foster the beginning of a camp this summer and a tutoring program, in Goma. These two programs will keep children away from streets, supplement teachers’ meager income, and provide leadership skills to the girls and temporary jobs to our college graduates.
Even though EduCorps was originally conceived for teachers coaching; after my long trip to Belgium, France, Rwanda, D.C. Congo, and South-Africa, I realized that we can’t talk about teachers coaching without “students coaching” especially in the Great Lakes region. The first idea was the fact that during breaks, when the school is not in session, students in this part of the world are often left without any academic “encadrement”. Second, teachers neither have little to do during those months of summer or dry season. So why don’t we bring both together in a forum in which students will continue their learning with teachers’ assistance. The relationship which will develop won’t be the same as teacher-student, like in a classroom, rather that of advisor/coach and advisee. The formula I came up with is a summer camp, not like in the “colonies des vacances” in which children attend just to play games and sports or sing. At this camp, the children engage in a learning process where education is made fun and based and rooted in “experiential learning” philosophy. Students, freely, choose their activities and teacher as a coach help students have the best practical experience. After each day, we would like children to return home with some practical knowledge they can use immediately.
Would you help find a way to give to these dedicated and diligent young women a chance to dream once again and make a difference in their lives, communities, and that of their country?
Dr. Murutamanga L. Kabahita