By Mr. Jerry DeYoung
We would like to start with a report received from Rev. Kabongo in September of this year. After reporting on the work of their synod meeting, he reported on the Congo Economic Development Fund as follows:
As time went, some of the projects supported by the RCUS through Providence Congregation in Lodi died out. Most of the pork/swine could not survive due to epidemics. The loan for self–sufficient funds worked, but people ate funds up for daily bread and children’s school fees.
What is visible to this day are the two concessions (properties) that remained under the control of members of the United Reformed Church in Congo leaders. The concession that went to the side of the Eglise Reformee Confessnte au Congo couldn’t be successfully controlled, and doesn’t exist anymore.
As for the concession in Mbujimayi, a muddy hut roofed in corrugated sheet metal didn’t survive against the windy rain. It collapsed and people tried to steal the sheet metal. The church thought it best to take the remaining sheet metal rather than losing everything. The remaining sheet metal helped the church to erect a small hall with two rooms that help the sewing machine learners to gather and learn. The sewing machine center is also known as Social Centre for meeting and sewing. More than 30 girls trained at the Centre are in the society working for themselves. They earn some money for their daily life. The concession needs to be rehabilitated with strong and durable material to have a multi-learning centre. This school year, the URCC Bupuekele has initiated a Christian School. They have started with the first and second classes of primary school. Next school year the remaining classes will be added until all the six classes of primary school will be completed.
In Kinshasa, the concession exists. They had border problems with the neighbors. They used the last funds sent to get cement and make cement bricks. After they had the bricks, they erected poles or walls to designate the boundaries of the concession. This will prevent outside people to come in the concession and try to have a portion of it as theirs.
We plan to continue with the project if the Lord allows it. On the concessions we would like to build houses or a hall in which some training can be done for the young people from both inside and outside the church. The training will consist of carpentry, building, sewing, aesthetics, breeding livestock, having farming lands etc. As the government purchased some tractors for rental, it becomes interesting to have farms worked with tractors instead of doing it with hoes. With motorized agriculture the production is higher.
Women need to make washing soap to sell and buy small products so that they can generate family income. Reformed youth envisage their own projects that can help them have their own income too.
As poverty is still greater in our country and in our denomination, the URCC pleads to our partners such as the CEDF in Lodi and in the RCUS to encourage local church organizations and individual members to do some activities that can help them get some funds produced. Such funds will help solve the problem of family daily bread, school fees for the children, and the local church contribution that includes the support of our own Ministers of the Word and the Sacraments.
The possible methodology we plan to use is to focus on church members that show their need for the work, to train them in a sector that they like to work in, and fund them for that purpose. Another alternative is that the committee here in the DRC implements a model farm with the funds so that after the production is sold, the income may be given to another group or groups to continue to do the same. In this way the successes and failures are possibly identified by the committee itself and the latter can give advice to other groups if needed.
The Committee for Economic Development in the DR Congo has noticed some progress in funding projects in the past. Some groups or families got opportunity to raise pigs, goats, or chickens and hand them over to another group. It was clear that some of the raised animal died because of diseases. Some families failed to continue the project because of lack of strategies and poverty. The concessions in Kinshasa and in Mbujimayi are still in use partially by some members, but they need greater projects for work training and/or breeding animals. This requires more funds to finance the projects. We hope to get funds for individual projects and common projects as a model to the church members. The prayer of the URCC is that our Lord would touch the hearts of people in the world to support this project so that the best results may be achieved for the development of the URCC members and for the whole DR Congo population.
This ends the report by Rev. Kabongo. We would like to add that it is important to continue to upgrade the properties that were purchased with Economic Development Funds. If the property is left to languish, the government takes it back or sells it to someone else. This is apparently what happened with the property that stayed with the EERC in Kananga. For now, we will be sending funds only to the projects in Kinshasa and Mbujimayi. We would like to continue to send funds to upgrade and improve these two properties in order to teach practical skills needed to earn a living in these cities. The sewing machines which were purchased with CED Funds have been a great success. It would be helpful for some of these people if they could have their own sewing machine to work with in order to earn income. We do not desire to give away the sewing machines in the center as there will then be no machines for learning. A sewing machine costs about $150. If some societies or groups would like to purchase a machine to give to a family, that also would be helpful.
If you would like to support this work in the DRC, please send the funds through the Consistory of Providence Reformed Church, Lodi (245 E. Vine St., Lodi, CA 95240. Designate in the memo section of the check that it is for the CEDF). Even a small donation will help with economic development for our brothers and sisters in the Congo.
Mr. Jerry DeYoung, Lodi, CA