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This web site shows some of the wonderful work being done by the Congolese order; The Sisters of St. Joseph. This small order of sisters run a most impressive range of projects in Congo, and some of their work is shown in the following pages.
We have been tracking the progress of the building and opening of a new school in the village of Chamalale, about 6km north of the southern Congolese city of Lubumbashi.
It is called the "The School For Peace" and it opened in September, 2005, initially for nursery age children (4 to 6 years old). Each year another class of nursery age children was enrolled. There are now 440 children at the school and the oldest of these are now in the Secondary section of the School. The population of the village has been dramatically increased following a large influx of refugee families from the north and east of the country which is still in the hands of rival warlords. This village previously had no school meaning that, until the school opened, about 1,500 children had no local access to any education.
The School for Peace is twinned with St. Benet's Catholic primary school in Beccles, England. It is in the Beccles area that much of the fund-raising for the school has taken place.
The projects included in this web site are in the south of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Congo is a very large country, not much smaller than the U.S.A. or western Europe. The projects included in this web site are in the south of the Democratic Republic of Congo, based near the city of Lubumbashi.
This is a copper mining town but, owing to the serious unrest in Congo over recent years, the mine has been periodically closed causing devastation to the local economy. It is operating at the moment but probably at only a fraction of its potential output.
United Nations Map
This link to School on Open Street Map shows the school 7km north west of Lubumbashi railway station.
This link opens in Google Earth if you have it installed.
Almost all schools in Congo are currently run by voluntary groups. The sisters of the Congregation of St Joseph are very active in Congo and have previously built a clinic and accommodation for the nursing staff in Chamalale. The sisters acquired land opposite the clinic for this school for local village children and for the children of refugee families.
The school is developing a special curriculum designed to promote peace and reconciliation and staff work with the children and their families to put aside past differences and encourage mutual understanding and respect.
Fund-raising in the UK has provided the means to get this project well under way and we recently passed the £300,000 landmark. Our priority at the moment is to fund a new block of ten classrooms. We have enough money for the lower level of 5 classrooms but we need to raise a lot more money to finish the work.
As well as funding the buildings we have well over 80 sponsors who pay for the education costs of 80 children whose parents are unable to afford the fees. We also make sure the school is properly furnished and well equipped.
All money raised is used for the project. Nothing is deducted for overheads or expenses. The money is sent to Congo electronically via a bank account in Belgium. This money is used by the sisters at Convent St. Joseph. We get receipts for all money sent and they keep full and detailed accounts so that we can be certain that all the money is used only for the purpose intended.
Anne died in June 2010 and her funeral was on 5th July. Sr. Euphrasie, the Mother Superior of the Sisters of St Joseph who oversees the running of the School for Peace, sent this message.
"Come, you whom my Father has blessed... each time that you have done something for the least of these brothers of mine, you have done it for me." Mathew 25, 34 -36 and 40
Dada A Reverend Father, Dear Ian and Neil, Dear Members of Anne's family, Dear Friends,
It is with great sadness that we have learnt of the death of our Dada (sister) Anna who loved us so much and whom we have loved. How I would like to be among you to share this painful moment and to pay homage to our Dear Departed One!
Through this letter of farewell, we want to express our gratitude and our admiration.
What can we say of our sister Anna? We recall her great passion for the poor. This is the love which drove her to us in 2001 at the moment when our country was at war. She risked her life to respond to an invitation from Sr. Marie-Bernard and to offer us her friendship. What impressed us was seeing Dad Anna share our lives, eat our food and speak our language, Swahili. That is what helped her integrate in our midst.
A woman of faith, she believed in the "School for Peace" project and through her enthusiasm, she brought along with her a whole group of people from Beccles who wanted to participate in the construction for the good of the children of Chamalale. In this way, she helped us to discover and love Beccles which has become our second home. Through the linking of the two schools, she knew she was creating a link of friendship between the children of St Benet's of Beccles and those of St Benet's of Chamalale. Through sponsorship, she has given happiness to the parents of children living in difficult circumstances.
Dada Anne never came as a tourist, but only to be with the children, to share her education skills and her friendship.
Anne was so close to them that all the children called her â€˜Dada Annaâ€™. In Chamalale, everyone knows Dada Anna.
Several choirs in Chamalale remember Dada Anna very well. Through her love of music she put on a concert with the help of her brother, Ian, in 2004 in the parish of St Eloi in Lubumbashi.
Her simplicity, education and cultural knowledge have been the great characteristics of her life. Thanks to these virtues, Anna was able to speak to anyone she met, from university professors to the poor mothers of Chamalale.
Dear Dada Anna, we thank you for you love for the children of Africa. Thank you for sharing your life with us. All the children of Chamalale and their parents thank you. You may have left us but you remain present and close to us. Now that you are with the Father, may this grain of wheat which has fallen to earth bear much fruit. May your work of love live forever through the School for Peace!
Reverend Father, Dear Ian and Neil, Dear Members of Anne's family, Dear Friends,
May the link which unites us, thanks to Dada Anna, always remain as strong and may it last forever. May our prayers accompany her to her eternal resting place!
On behalf of the Congregation of St Joseph
Sister Euphrasie Beya