On July 6, 2018, the Sister Mary Bernard (DC) Training Center opened in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo for the care of adolescent mothers. Sister Germaine Baibika, DC has been instrumental in the development of this center as she worked on the project Environmental Education for Youth for Sustainable Development.
This professional Center has a capacity of 80 learners and offers a series of courses in: cutting & sewing, aesthetic and hairdressing, culinary, computer art, and literacy.
The Center is named in memory of Sister Mary Bernard, Daughter of Charity, who died in May of this year. She was a teacher at various schools in Bikoro and Mbandaka, and also assisted refugees in Brazzaville, special children, and women in formation as Sisters. She studied in Congo, Madagascar, Paris, and Belgium. She dedicated her life to the interest of youth, particularly girls, and to the poor and the needy. She was also passionate about dance and sports! Sister Mary Bernard participated in the preparations of the opening of this training center for youth and they have dedicated it to her memory.
Rev. Sister Mary Bernard Training Center is a home for the learning of skills for teenage girls who did not follow the curriculum of education as a result of an unwanted pregnancy, early marriage, and/or lack of resources.
Organized in collaboration with UNFPA (UN Population Fund), in the sense of “not leaving anyone behind,” Kitumaini initiative also importantly includes non-formal education, which will contribute to the professional training and socio-economic reintegration for the girls.
Participants attending the ceremony included: UNFPA, UNESCO, municipal authorities, Daughters of Charity, PIARIST and VINCENTIAN priests, Franciscan (STIGMATINES) Sisters, authorities of the College Anna Fiorelli, MWIMBA TEXAS Foundation, YOU, girls of the Kabila camp, JCD, and the deaf.
Mass and the blessings opened the ceremony followed by expressions of gratitude to all who were involved in developing the center. Representatives of the involved organizations emphasized that the purpose of the training center is to allow the adolescents to learn skills and aptitudes that contribute to the social development that will give them access to a dignified life.
Immediately after the ribbon cutting, a tour showed the different departments of the center: cutting & sewing, aesthetics & hairdressing room, and the equipment that will be used for the training of young women and adolescents.
The girls of the KABILA Camp explained how the daily life of adolescents in the environment of social difficulties and lack of education push them into early pregnancies, leading to abortions and sometimes even death. They thanked the initiators of the project and promised to take the training seriously in order to bring a boon in the development of their environment.
The Company of the Daughters of Charity has served in DR Congo since 1929 in the Provinces of Ecuador, Bandundu, and Kinshasa. They have hospitals, schools, and centers for: persons living with disabilities, promotion of women, children in difficulties (commonly known as street children), a home for the elderly, and the DREAM Center for the victims of HIV and malnutrition.
Youth Network for Development (JCD) is also one of the works of the Daughters of Charity. It was born as a response to calls from society that continue to show the desire of being supported and accompanied by the Sisters, who are trying to implement the recommendation of Vincent de Paul that “no misery should be foreign to them.”