Gemena Community Center: On a Path Towards Sustainability

At Congo Voice, we’re on a mission to revolutionize a region. Our newest plan of action is a proposed Community Center and we’re kicking off the fundraising campaign this month. A community center might not sound as exciting as a new well or an NBA player’s basketball camp; but there are many reasons why this is a fantastic opportunity. 

The THREE key attributes of the center are:

1. Self-sustaining  

Our ultimate goal for this project is to meet the needs of this community while allowing the center to become self-funded. This facility will generate revenue by renting office spaces, providing access to the internet via an internet café, a restaurant, in addition to selling electricity generated from our diesel generator. Beyond the costs to operate the Community Center, any excess profit will go to fund the Children’s Center entirely. The goal is to remove donation dependency and build a successful model for Congo Voice’s long term growth and sustainability. Currently, there are NO community centers or meeting places in Gemena, the market is open and that community need will be met by us. Our facilities will be capable of holding weddings, conferences, important meetings, and basically anything under the sun. There will also be a playground located behind the building, so kids will have a safe place to play and have fun.  Additionally, we are really excited about the internet café. Secure internet access has evolved from being a luxury to a necessary component of life, even in underdeveloped economies. We will provide the internet to a community with previously limited access through the café.

2.  Education

 Classroom settings with a properly trained teacher are not always feasible in the developing world; however that lack of a traditional learning environment should not hold back eager students. This is why we will be providing distance learning platforms at the center- where the only two requirements for an education are an internet connection and updated software. Distance learning is changing the world, and we want to offer that same opportunities in Gemena. We will also conduct vocational training classes such as carpentry, sewing, IT, and bicycle repair. (In Congo, bicycles are a very important mode of transportation.) In a country with very high unemployment, learning vocational skills or earning a degree online can provide necessary skills, and thus employment, to prevent their children from going hungry. 

3. Creating Economic Development   

In Congo jobs are scarce, and I’m sure we all know that without a flourishing workforce, there can be no flourishing economy. The point is EVERY job matters and so we will be hiring locals for various roles required because of the nature of the center. We will be renting out several kiosks in the new building for entrepreneurs to sell their goods, giving them access to a whole new market. There will also be a front desk in the center, and so a receptionist will need to be hired along with security. Finally, the proposed restaurant will require cooks, servers, and a manager etc.

This project is more than just a proposed building, it is an opportunity for education, jobs, a place to sell goods, and ultimately a revenue source to fund all aspects of the Children’s Center. This future community center will be a model for the rest of the region, the province, and the ENTIRE COUNTRY. Change is not made in a sweeping fashion, it’s made brick by brick; one mountain at a time. Funding this project is our next mountain.

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