The Good Shepherd Sisters Kolwezi Project
A Life Outside the Mines An informal school set up by Good
Shepherd Sisters brings hope to the
children of Kolwezi (DRC). Kolwezi, a city located in the south of Democratic
Republic of Congo, is a land rich in precious minerals,
including uranium, radium, cobalt and copper. The
minerals extracted from the local mines are used to build
computers, cellphones and electronic components. A small fraction of the wealth generated from the multibillion-dollar mining industry is shared with residents of
Kanina, a village located on the fringe of the mines. On
the contrary, the residents are a victim's of the mine's
vast success. The children are vulnerable to
environmentally related disease; their parents suffer
from brutal working conditions.
This man who spent his life in the river, asked us:
“What are you bringing us? What is your message?”
We answered: “We are offering an education for
He said: “Then I too am a child…”
Starting at a young age children work at the mine
(despite laws that forbid it), collecting and washing
minerals. Women, some pregnant, have little choice but
to work here as well, spending hours under the sun
scouring the polluted river waters for valuable ore. A
great number of children in the area are born with
serious birth defects and malformations.
Some *70 percent of Kanina children work in the river,
collecting and washing minerals. This strenuous activity
causes the early onset of arthritis, rheumatic disorders,
cancer, as well as eye and respiratory infections.
*Source = Good Shepherd Sisters field study (2012)
None of these children, between the ages of
5 and 12, have ever regularly attended
school. Until Now.
Some *60 percent of the Kanina children
are orphans, and *70 percent of them have
suffered some form of physical and mental
abuse. *Source = GSS field study (2012)
present in their
hair and their
legs and their
feet suffer the
with the river.
In 2012, the Good Shepherd Sisters
turned a home into an “informal school,”
where children can reclaim the years of
education they lost and start to build a
better life through study.
In just a few months after opening, more than 900
children started to attend the school, a small,
dilapidated structure with mud walls and water
jugs that double as chairs. There are no desks.
The community dedication is inspiring.
Teachers walk two hours to reach the
school, and many even work for free.
The windowless structure
consists of a blackboard,
plastic cannisters that
serve as benches and
chairs for the students.
There are no bathrooms
and there is no electricity.
Feeding minds and tummies: In
October 2012, none of the children
interviewed could remember the
last time they had eaten a meal.
More than 900 children wait in line for
weekly food distribution in Kanina. By
autumn, 2013, meals were served daily.
Thanks to the program that the Sisters plan to carry out in the
next three years, more than 1,000 children will learn to speak,
read and write French. The number of malnourished children will
be reduced by 50 percent, and most of the children who today
work in the mines will instead attend school.
The school and the other activities created and carried
out by the Good Shepherd Sisters have brought hope
to the children of Kanina and to their families.
But we need your help. To help the Kanina
school grow and to support the nutrition and
other education projects of the Good Shepherd
Sisters visit: www.fondazionebuonpastore.org