The Daughters of Charity have had a presence in the Democratic Republic of Congo for over 90 years. The people living in Kinshasa, Congo’s capital, come from different parts of the country. Although 64% of the population of Lemba is educated, only about 3% are adequately employed. In fact, the average family income is less than $1 per day, and consequently there are many beggars.
The Daughters of Charity deliver health services, operate a home for street children, offer development programs for women, girls and young men, and provide social services. The people in Lemba live in a dirty and unhealthy environment because they lack the understanding and coordinated efforts and ability to care for the environment. In early 2016 the Sisters began a program called Youth Network Development to raise community awareness and educate youth at the secondary to university levels. One critical program component is to engage youth by orchestrating practical and direct actions to improve their community environment. For example, the Sisters share the myriad benefits of cleaning up their community from the garbage and blight that plagues the streets and gutters. This helps all the local people directly and also empowers youth to become active agents of change. The Young Network for Development (JCD) collaborates with USAID, ASD, and the government through the municipal authorities, as well as the local parish.
We offer a thankful heart for the initial support for our program “Climate Change and Education for Sustainable Development” which received its official blessing and opening of the public activities on October 4, 2016. We had a warm holy Mass at Notre Dame d’Afrique Parish, attended by 5 priests, the Daughters of Charity, both Catholic and non-Catholic youth, friends of the youth, government leaders of Lemba municipality, girls from the Kabila Camp, and parishioners from Notre Dame. Afterwards, Father blessed the materials to be used for the work of cleaning the gutters of the road, and everyone celebrated at the parish hall with speeches and refreshments.
The next day we began tackling the tremendous work of cleaning. It is not easy or pleasant work, but I was very touched by the enthusiasm and courage of the people and also of the municipal authorities who worked side by side together with the people. Our team from the youth organization was very active as well. We received a good response from the letters we had previously sent inviting the people of Lemba to provide assistance to this public work. Many responded positively and were happy to see the work started.
The work continues and we really do need your prayers.”