Children help install solar panels, next drilling for clean water

Solar Panels Installed -
Light Changes Test Scores


We are thankful for your support. 

Solar Panels Delivers Light!

In January 2014, CongoVoice attended the Retail Orphan Initiative (ROI) Conference in NYC to raise funds for solar power projects at the Children's Center. ROI's generous response led to CongoVoice contracting with Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) to design and install solar panels to deliver adequate power to provide evening and morning lights to the 80 children living at the Center. Over the summer, solar panels were installed with the children's assistance at the Center. The children finally have light to study and now have the highest test scores in their respective public school classes. MAF is also planning on installing solar panels on the rooftop of the Ubangi Protestant University (UPU).  As detailed in MAF’s latest report, the solar panels are designed to be theft proof. MAF used unique headed bolts that can only be removed by a special key; the strength of the bolts are resistant to any cutting except by a high performance metal saw. 

MAF gave special acknowledgment to two girls, Florence and Chantal from the Children's Center who actively assisted in the installation of the panels. Florence and Chantal helped to carry materials, weld and even assisted in raising the panels onto the roof. Their courageous efforts are greatly appreciated!

Chantal and Florence assisting the men of MAF.

Meet Chantal: Watch her interview

Meet Florence: Watch her interview

Below is a picture of the solar panels about to be installed at UPU

Below is a photo of how the children used to study on the floor by candle. Now they study with lights above. 

Meet Hope - he was buried alive,
but now sleeps peacefully at the Children's Center.

After giving birth, the 17-year-old mother did not even have a blanket to wrap the child. The guard at the clinic gave her his own jacket to keep the baby warm. Her family had disowned her for getting pregnant and would not accept either of them. Without her parents support she had no means of feeding herself or the child. Out of desperation, she dug a hole and buried her son, believing that her family would accept her again if the child was gone. 

As the child continued to scream in the ground, she unburied him. Pleading with people in the community to help her with her child, she was directed to see Sabuli Sanguma, founder and director of the Children's Center.  Sabuli welcomed the mother and son. She bathed, fed and clothed them. Sabuli named the child: Elikia, which means Hope in Lingala.

Donations from YOU provided this miraculous outcome for Hope!

Support Sabuli's Children's Center

To specifically direct your donation or for questions regarding a donation, email CongoVoice at info@CongoVoice.org or mail your check drafted to CongoVoice to 2805 St. James Road, Belmont, CA 94002

 

Meetings with Congo Representatives:

In November, 2014 Anna-Marie Anderson, traveled to the DR Congo as a CongoVoice representative to offer "on the ground" support in a wide array of tasks. Anna-Marie has had a deep interest and passionate heart for the Congo for many years. One of her key roles will be to assess, collaborate and implement micro financed business to help expand the local Gemena economy -  funded by CongoVoice. Anna-Marie traveled with 8 crates of much needed supplies including several mobile tablet computers in partnership with Stanford University to implement an incredible new approach to education via SMILE mobile technology.

Before traveling to Gemena, Anna-Marie and Mossai Sanguma met with various key Congo representatives: 

  • Bishop of the Protestant Church (also adviser to President Kabila) to discuss CongoVoice strategy in the Gemena area

  • USAID meeting to discuss development projects and opportunities to partner

  • Minister of Education and Congolese Senator to discuss educational approaches with SMILE and CongoVoice Community Center

  • IMA World Health (Jennifer Scott) to discuss a special stove that reduces emissionss to improve Congolese health

  • US Embassy - Public Relations and Diplomacy to discuss projects and opportunities to partner

All the meetings had positive results and defined next steps in establishing valuable partnerships to improve the effictiveness of a coordinated approach to solve the many challenges the Congolese people face each and every day. 
 
Anna-Marie and Mossai visited the newly purchased property for the CongoVoice Community Center located near the central market in Gemena. There is quite a bit of buzz over the new Community Center and the planned offerings that will be available to the local Congolese people, including a preschool and sports program for the children (hosted by UPU students), an Internet Cafe for the community (operated by UPU students) and mentoring services for entrepreneurs micro-funded by CongoVoice. 

Below are pictures of Pastor Zabusu, Anna-Marie, Mossai. Bishop Marini, and Lydia Mangoni

- Upcoming Projects

Drilling a safe water well at the Children’s Center

  • Children will then have access to clean safe water, which they currently walk 15 minutes each way to the nearest clean water source See their current water source
  • Estimated cost for well drilling and hand pump is $20,000
  • Expanding the Children's Center to be able to provide nursery facilities for young babies has been planned for 2015 - this is budgeted at $50,000

Launching high-speed Internet access by the New Year at UPU

  • Will facilitate a wide array of new classes and improved communications (this has been funded - thank you) funds are needed for ongoing annual access expenses of $8,000

Launching 3 businesses by UPU students - each requiring $30,000 to implement.

  1. Improved food production and quality - building and operating a grinding mill
  2. Improved lumber quality and availability - building and operating a saw mill 
  3. Improved agriculture production - utilizing Oxen to pull plows (already on site) to reduce back breaking hand methods: Congo Animal Traction Initiative (CATI)

To help fund one of these projects donate here. Specifically allocate your donation by emailing CongoVoice or you can mail a check drafted to CongoVoice to 2805 St. James Road, Belmont, CA 94002

Thank you for your continuing support of CongoVoice

Suzanne and Mike Seashols
CongoVoice Representatives


Let there be light!

Exciting Transformations

The power is ON!  The children at the Children’s Center read books, did their home work, and chatted into the night last week as the power was turned on and light radiated throughout the rooms.   Their reaction was pure joy and excitement – their world changed for the better with a convenience which most of us take for granted.  

The majority of the funding for the Solar Power was donated by the Retail Orphan Initiative (ROI) organization.  ROI members are leaders from the Retail industry who have a heart for orphans’ worldwide continue to be committed and to assist in critical needs for the Children’s Center in 2015.   
 
Our partnership with the Children’s Center includes the monthly financial support of the 73 children in residence, and the projects that improve their living conditions.  We continue to seek donors to support a child for $40 per month. 

To support a child for $40 visit http://www.congovoice.org/ways-to-donate

The children used to gather on the floor around a candle to study. Now they are finishing homework with lights above. After just a few weeks of lights, the children’s school test scores have risen an average 20% with their ability to do more homework in the evenings. 

Aruftu works for Mission Aviation Fellowship and traveled specifically to Gemena to install solar electricity for the Children's Center. We are grateful for his work and commitment. 

Ubangi Protestant University (UPU)

Graduation – 2014


Three-hundred and forty-five students made up the 2014 graduating class of Ubangi Protestant University (UPU); over 1000 family and friends joined them to celebrate their achievement. 

UPU has become a beacon of HOPE and OPPORTUNITY in the Congo – and the Gemena area.   Our partnership with UPU includes providing scholarship funds for deserving students, financial resources to develop & deliver outstanding educational content, and launching micro financed business ventures by the students to create a sustainable local economy.  Our student enrollment is climbing 30% next year to 800 students. UPU is making an immense impact on the local community and driving towards a sustainable economy.

 

The graduation was a great milestone and testimony to the effectiveness of your generosity to UPU.

What’s Next?  - The Vision 

We have made outstanding progress through the financial resources that you have donated since CongoVoice was started two years ago. We are delivering HOPE to the lives of thousands of children and students in the Gemena area. 
 
Our Congolese partners aspire to create a better life and are dreaming BIG!  Their dreams include: 

  1. One of the key properties in central Gemena became available for purchase and one of our donors funded the acquisition of the property for use as a Community Center.  A plan has been developed to remodel that existing structure to launch 3 key uses described below - This requires $20,000 for the remodeling costs.
    1. Provide UPU classrooms and teaching in central Gemena that will double the number of students that can receive life changing education & training. 
    2. Launch the first general public Internet Café within hundreds of miles, (UPU students have conceived and will operate the café for profit). – We need 10 laptop computers & network servers – estimated cost is $9,000.
    3. a.Provide an onsite coach / mentor accessible for the entrepreneurs to provide support for their business ideas.  We need the first years cost covered - $15,000.
       
  2. A.Installing high-speed access to the Internet to the UPU campus would forever change our ability to deliver French based educational content to the students. We need $8,000 per year for data access
     
  3. A.Develop the Children’s Center facility – it is essential to build a local water well to gain access to clean water (estimate is $15,000) – we need to expand the kitchen facilities to support the increased number of children  (estimate is $6,000)– we need to add a nursery facility to the current center to meet the need of providing for infant care (estimate is $10,000).
     
  4. A.Institute a proven and innovative educational approach to address the early childhood educational challenges based on partnering with the staff of seedsofempowerment.org.   We need 40 tablet computers to start this effort – estimated cost $12,000.

Seeds of Empowerment SMILE program: Children using mobile technology to learn multiple disciplines. 

Thank you for your past and ongoing support to meet the needs of the people of the Congo.  We’re asking for your continuing support by selecting one of the needs listed above and going to www.congovoice.org and designate your donation.

Read the Orphan's Stories

Mbado Siblings

            When Sabuli was in Kinshasa at her sister’s house, Dieu was going door to door begging for food or money. Sabuli was in the house when she heard her nieces and nephews yelling, “Get out! You are evil! You killed your parents!” So she went to investigate and found a little boy, Dieu, 11 years old, filthy dirty and crying in the doorway. Sabuli got down and hugged him, and brought him into the house and sat him down to hear what he had to say. Dieu told her that all yesterday, he walked up and down trying to find metal to sell to feed his three sisters, but he didn’t find any and he was trying to find a job to work to buy bread for his sisters. Some times he would help people carry their groceries from the store to the car and hope they give him money, but he hadn’t been able to bring home food in many days and this morning, one of his sisters couldn’t stand up and he was scared that she was going to die soon if he couldn’t bring food home.

Sabuli asked him what happened to his parents and he told her that his father died and his mother remarried. When his step father couldn’t find a job, he blamed it on us and said that we have an evil spirit and sent us away. Now, we are homeless and we sleep on the street. My sisters are so little, they can’t work but I try and find work.

Sabuli went with him to go find his sisters, and they were cold and shaking and dirty and Nicole couldn’t stand up because it had been so long since they last ate. Sabuli washed them and fed them. Then she found their grandmother and went to go talk with her. Their grandmother told Sabuli that the children have an evil spirit and she would not let them in her home and didn’t care what happened to the 4 kids. So Sabuli brought them home with her on the plane to Gemena and located them into the Center. And today, they have almost made a full recovery from their extreme malnutrition.

 
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Pricilia Mbado

 
Pricilia is 8 years old, she was born in Kinshasa. She is the third sibling in the Mbado family. Pricilia is in second grade, and her favorite subject is Math. She really likes to play (especially with Sophia and her sister Nicole) and she likes music. When she gets older, she would like to sew clothes like Benie.

Pricilia is 8 years old, she was born in Kinshasa. She is the third sibling in the Mbado family. Pricilia is in second grade, and her favorite subject is Math. She really likes to play (especially with Sophia and her sister Nicole) and she likes music. When she gets older, she would like to sew clothes like Benie.

 

 

 

Nicole Mbado

Nicole is the youngest of the Mbado children and the one who suffered the worst malnutrition when the siblings were taken into the center. Nicole is 5 years old, born in Kinshasa. This year she is attending Kindergarten for the first time and she really likes it. She especially likes memorizing and reciting things. When she is at the center, her favorite friends to play with are Sophia and her sister Pricilia. Nicole also likes to use corn or bananas and carry them around, taking care of them like baby dolls. When she gets older, Nicole  wants to be a mommy.       

Nicole is the youngest of the Mbado children and the one who suffered the worst malnutrition when the siblings were taken into the center. Nicole is 5 years old, born in Kinshasa. This year she is attending Kindergarten for the first time and she really likes it. She especially likes memorizing and reciting things. When she is at the center, her favorite friends to play with are Sophia and her sister Pricilia. Nicole also likes to use corn or bananas and carry them around, taking care of them like baby dolls. When she gets older, Nicole  wants to be a mommy.

 

 

Dieu Mbado

Dieu Mbado is 12 years old, he was born in Kinshasa. When I asked him what he remembers about  he immediately withdrew and looked down, shoulders hunched over. “I remember waking up early in the morning to go find work so I could feed my siblings” he says quietly.  Dieu says loves living at the center because he gets to go to school and he gets to eat. Dieu is in 3rd grade and his favorite subject to study is French. In his free time, he likes to play soccer, and when he is done with school, he dreams of becoming a pilot. Nothing particular inspired this dream but he says that when he sees the airplanes fly, it makes him happy. If he was a pilot, Dieu says that he would fly to the US to study.    Dieu asks that you would be praying for him to be smart. 

Dieu Mbado is 12 years old, he was born in Kinshasa. When I asked him what he remembers about  he immediately withdrew and looked down, shoulders hunched over. “I remember waking up early in the morning to go find work so I could feed my siblings” he says quietly.

Dieu says loves living at the center because he gets to go to school and he gets to eat. Dieu is in 3rd grade and his favorite subject to study is French. In his free time, he likes to play soccer, and when he is done with school, he dreams of becoming a pilot. Nothing particular inspired this dream but he says that when he sees the airplanes fly, it makes him happy. If he was a pilot, Dieu says that he would fly to the US to study.

Dieu asks that you would be praying for him to be smart. 

Benie Mbado

Benie is the second sibling in the Mbado family. She is 10 years old, born in Kinshasa, and she is in 4th grade. In school, French is her favorite subject.  Benie says that life before the center was not good, but now she likes living at the center. In her free time, she likes to cook and sing. When she gets older, she would like to be a seamstress. Benie was taught how to sew when a team from Peninsula Covenant Church came, and she is very proud to have even sewn her own quilt already.    Benie asks that you would be praying that she would be smart.        Read more of the orphan's stories       

Benie is the second sibling in the Mbado family. She is 10 years old, born in Kinshasa, and she is in 4th grade. In school, French is her favorite subject.

Benie says that life before the center was not good, but now she likes living at the center. In her free time, she likes to cook and sing. When she gets older, she would like to be a seamstress. Benie was taught how to sew when a team from Peninsula Covenant Church came, and she is very proud to have even sewn her own quilt already.

Benie asks that you would be praying that she would be smart.

Read more of the orphan's stories

 

Over $7,500 Donated

Mike Seashols and business executives attending ROI in Manhattan 2014. 

Mike Seashols and business executives attending ROI in Manhattan 2014. 

 

CongoVoice kickstarted the new year by presenting at the Super Saturday Retail Orphan Initiative (ROI) on January 11, 2014 in Manhattan, New York. On this Saturday, 250 top retailers in America heard how they can help build a better future for orphans locally and internationally.

CongoVoice was one of 9 invited charities attending the event. As featured in the above photo, Mike Seashols, co-founder of CongoVoice is detailing to two retail business executives about the extreme level of poverty in the Congo and the dire needs of the orphans. Many executives were enthusiastic to hear how CongoVoice is providing a sustainable approach in alleviating poverty in the region by investing in the children, students and entrepreneurs with partnered leadership.

Over $7,500 was donated to CongoVoice from ROI. Already CongoVoice is utilizing the donation to develop electricity from solar panels to benefit the orphanage and Protestant University in the Ubangi region.

Katelyn Hummel, Media & Communications Manager for CongoVoice featured in the photo below with Mike Seashols will be documenting the electricity project and capturing the many stories of those impacted by CongoVoice when she arrives in early May 2014.

 
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Building Businesses with Micro Loans

In 2013, CongoVoice partnered with Christine Buettgen, program manager for Economic Development in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Christine desired to execute a micro loan model that was started by Oxfam America. The micro finance model called Saving for Change helps predominantly women in rural areas with no access to financial institutions. 

The model is simple yet very effective.

There is an established trainer who is a local villager. The trainer manages a group of about 20 women. These women all desire to be part of a saving and lending circle to help them with their own business. All members contribute from a few cents to 50 cents a week. When a member needs a loan, the group decides whether or not to approve the loan, what interest rate will be charged and the payment terms.  Most loans range from a few dollars to $50 .

These small loans have dramatic positive impact on the women, their families and communities. Saving for Change is a safe and convenient alternative for communities to save and borrow money. What makes it sustainable is the fact that the loans are distributed out from the local economic community and economic gains remain in those communities. The groups are managed by the people themselves empowering communities. Since the community members are all contributing to the pot there is a high accountability factor resulting in the repayment of every loan on time.

With financial support from CongoVoice and partnering with World Vision, Christine was able to launch this program in the Ubangi region. Measuring the program’s efficacy will take a few years. Oxfam America has reported that since this program was started in 2009, over 680,000 people, mainly women have become members. Savings for Change has spread into 13 countries and virtually no groups have failed.

Christine helped manage the local Congolese trainers who over see groups of 20 to 25 women. Below are some of the trainers receiving their certificates of achievement and Christine with World Vision staff who partnered in this effort to support Saving for Change. With these new financial institutions, women in the poorest world region and in a country ranked the worst for women to live are now empowered entrepreneurs and changing their role in their community. 

 


Mama Odette Gbazo

Mama Odette Gbazo

Mama Marie Louise Nzozi

Mama Marie Louise Nzozi

Mama Bibi Elenga

Mama Bibi Elenga

Christine Buettgen

Christine Buettgen

Watch how the Oxfam America Savings for Change model has been implemented and yielding successful results in other impoverished countries: 

Be part of the impact and support CongoVoice.

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