On October 14, an inauguration ceremony was held for the newly completed building complex in Fungurume, Congo, housing two workshops (mechanical and electrical) and four administrative offices, as part of an educational project inspired by the Xaverian charism: to give students a chance.
“We seek to provide a quality education that will allow students to develop the maximum potential God has placed in each of them, to actively participate in the building of a better world; the Kingdom of God,” said Brother François Kilonda.
Since August 2017, Brothers have been present in Fungurume, responding to the request of the Metropolitan Archbishop of Lubumbashi to manage ten schools which have been ceded to him by the mining company Tenke Fungurume Mining (TFM). Six of the schools are for primary and four for secondary. All four secondary schools organize technical, general mechanics and electrical sections. Unfortunately, these schools did not have a workshop to allow learners to practice their learnings.
“In order to provide adequate training to our students, we felt it was very necessary to provide our secondary schools with two workshops, mechanical and electrical, for practice,” said Kilonda. “However, the means at our disposal for the management of these schools could not allow us to undertake such work. Additionally, we realized the two large schools, primary and secondary, located in the same enclosure with our management office, lacked certain essential structures such as certain administrative offices and depots. Therefore, we saw fit to build a complex that will house all of these structures.”
Despite lacking sufficient means to initiate the work, the Brothers stepped out in faith and believed on Divine Providence. They started construction with minimal savings from the financial year 2017-2018 and the first half of 2019, without much guarantee of reassurance.
“While we were starting work in February 2019, the social project manager of the company Congo Equipment (CAT) visited our office,” said Kilonda. “We took this opportunity to present our project to him, requesting financial and material support. Fortunately, the company managers agreed to our request, supporting us with $20,000 – 22.29% of the overall cost. We were able to provide the remaining costs due to our savings. Indeed, we now have a framework that offers our students technical practice in mechanics and electricity!”
Administrative offices and three depots were also added. During the inauguration ceremony, the Brothers expressed their gratitude to the company which supported them in their realization of the project and appealed to business managers who were present to help with workshop equipment.
Revenue for the secondary schools comes from parents of students. Their contribution helps cover salaries of teachers and the purchase of school supplies. The contribution is insufficient to cover all the needs relating to the operation of the schools and often the funding of primary schools is used to replace secondary schools. Since April 2018, the government issued a notice agreeing to align the primary and secondary schools among those it supports financially. Unfortunately, however, nothing has been done yet.
“If we hold on to the management of the schools entrusted to us, it is because we still receive financially support from the TFM company for primary schools,” said Kilonda. “However, this support decreases each year and will end in December 2022.”
With the deadline looming, the Brothers believe if the government does not step in to support their schools, they will face serious difficulties continuing management and are seeking partners of goodwill to come to their aid in case the government fails to deliver on its promises.
“We sincerely thank our colleagues who came from Kipushi and Likasi, who were present at the ceremony to support us,” said Kilonda. Brothers François Musongo, Marc Kabwita, Alain Kalunga and Crispin Kibao were all in attendance. Kilonda continued, “May the Holy Spirit who set the heart of our founder Theodore James Ryken ablaze for the building up of the Kingdom of God, through the ministry of education, inspire and support all that we undertake as a work, for the progress of our people and to the glory of God.”