Faced with the coronavirus pandemic, UEM members have geared up humanitarian aid delivery system to help the poorest and most marginalized people as they face the rising tide of infections. Despite access restrictions, UEM members are working around the clock with local communities in 15 African churches to deliver much needed assistance to curb to spread of the virus and help protect communities from its economic impact. Thank you so much to all who are helping to assist vulnerable people and to make the development work possible!In August 2019, the UEM General Secretary, the Rev Volker Martin Dally and two of his colleagues of the Africa Department (Uli Baege and myself) joined the CADELU President, Rev. Bokombe Jean Denis, church and community leaders to participate to an opening ceremony of a school Mapamboli owned by the CADELU church, in the DR Congo, Kinshasa, the capital City, with an estimated 12 million of the population. The following is a progress report on two projects by UEM co-worker Mr Safari Kanyena, Development Adviser of the CDCC and CADELU Church.
From 2017, UEM supported CADELU for the construction of a school in Kinshasa. Located in the place called B.A.T, this school has opened its almost two years ago. With the governmental disposition of “free education at primary school”, Mapamboli Primary school which was designed for 240 pupils has seen its figures climbing up to 609 children. The UEM co-worker gave below the presentation of children per class room. In some countries, it is not believed that a classroom can take more than 30 pupils. But here is the situation in Mapamboli School, Kinshasa: According to our co-worker the 609 students are distributed among a total of six classes, each with an average of 52 girls and 49 boys. In other words, there are around 100 students in a classroom. Mr.Kanyena writes: “Mapamboli was a true response to the educational challenges but now, the quality can be questioned due to overcrowded classrooms”. And one could also think of the challenge when it comes to “social distancing” during the Covid-19.
What is the aspects of the cooperation? It is designing and evaluating the project of COVID-19 prevention in Kinshasa. Mr Safari Kanyena shared with the team from both churches: “bringing together the members and make them able to implement the mission is one of the most strengths of UEM”. This project was a real practice of the approach of GLEP - Global Learning in Ecumenical Perspective. In the context of the common threat of COVID-19, a project was designed and presented to UEM for a grant. Its implementation was made by a joint team of six people from CDCC and CADELU in Kinshasa. It is noticed how much the community in Kinshasa is satisfied to see the activities implemented as they were planned. Here are some of the reported results:
CDCC and CADELU succeeded to set a joint coordination committee which performed the work with professionalism;
The project reinforced the relations between the church members because in spite of their presence in the same city of Kinshasa, CADELU and CDCC do not use to meet or to work together.
The UEM support reached chronic patients regardless their religion (especially those suffering from Diabetes, pressure, other respiratory problems and aged people);
400 exposed people got a cash for food (240 in CDCC and 160 in CADELU);
According to Mr Safari Kanyena, the impact of this project was seen on the following aspects:
Its sustainability: in terms of “learning”, CADELU and CDCC learnt together and each from another. An excellent experience:
They globally learnt from medias,
They looked for solution to their problems out of their frontiers,
They did not focus their interest on the religion but on the humanity;
Such an experience, if broadened and repeated is worthy for developing the vision of togetherness and valuating the humanity,
They learnt values of togetherness, wholeness and not the selfishness because they shared experiences;
The relationships created in the joint work will long-last even when Covid-19 will be eradicated.
CADELU and CDCC showed a real capacity to work together on the field: In thisproject, we reached the step of an integrative management in which the lay people and other members according to their competencies and qualities were involved in the management process. The resources of this project were managed at the grassroots’ church level at 93, 4% whereas the church General secretary managed 6, 6%. This experience was a practical school of integrative management.
The relevance to the five components of UEM’s corporate identity:
Evangelism: it responded to the holistic evangelism, feeding people and involving in their health solutions.
Advocacy: it was seen in the interventions in favour of the voiceless
Diakonia: the help was a comfort for some hospitalized poor people and the aged who were feeling abandoned by the church. They renewed their relation with the church.
Development: learning together, sensitizing the church against the disease, investing in human health in terms of prevention… are good actions of human development.
Partnership: it developed local and outside cooperation. CADELU and CDCC strengthened their working relations at the grassroots level.
Gender impact of this project: To get the help, men and women had the same chance of being selected. A question was however raised to why no woman was selected in the 6-people of the joint coordination committee. The two churches confessed that this was a mistake which will never be repeated.
In short, this project has been a very good experience of UEM communion in the field because it brought churches together in order to perform the common mission and fight against the common threat of covid-19. This is also witnessed in other UEM regions, Asia and Europe.
Rev. Dr John Wesley Kabango, Executive Secretary Africa of UEM, from the report sent by UEM co-worker Safari Kanyena
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