Democratic Republic of the Congo : agents for transformation

A deeper look at the aim of the "Mère Marie de Jésus" adult education centre the aim of which is the "holistic training and advancement of Congolese women..."

When I arrived at the novitiate community in 2011, the project of organising a beginner’s course in information technology arose as a result of the desire expressed by a group of women who were attending the course in cutting out and sewing. 
 
At the present time, for people who have not been initiated into the use of computers, even if they have university degrees, communicating at a global level is difficult. The Internet is a means of communicating in a network that is universal and widespread in our society. 
 
"So that women may be agents for transformation" (the specific aim of the Centre), we thought it would be possible and feasible to organise, with old computers, an initiation course adapted to their level. This would also, and above all, facilitate the learning of French as it is the official language of the Congo. 
 
For two hours every week, in small groups so as to facilitate the learning process for the women, we meet in the TIC (Technologies for Information and Communication) room, mainly for an introduction to programmes in Word, Excel, PowerPoint and also the Internet. There was a large number of applicants and we had to select part of the group. Those who began demonstrated great perseverance and their enthusiasm on seeing new and beautiful things on the screen knew no bounds – this was the fruit of their work! 
 
The saying "A picture is worth a thousand words" is true. Yes, we are in the era of the picture, and the computer can put the women in contact with beautiful pictures and PowerPoint presentations from all over the world. This heightens their awareness of beauty and spurs them on to create and to express themselves in a different way, and not just with words. 
Computer language is a language of icons; it can open people to a whole culture without language barriers: the dream of those who wish to promote peace and fellowship. 
 
This missionary project helps me to discover the fears they have but, above all, the strengths for life and joy that the African women have and which would enable them to be agents for transformation, a transformation that is to come and which needs more feminine values, ones that only the heart of a mother can discover. 
 
Sr Natália, Little Sister
 

NEWS OF "TOKOLA LISANGA" 

"Father, I bless you; from the wise and the learned you have hidden your mystery, but, in the heart of a child you say that you are Father; Father I bless you for your immense Love." 
 
I am going to tell you about an event that concerns our nursery school "Tokola Lisanga", which means: "Let’s grow together". 
 
As you know, the school has just one aim: to participate in the education of the children, to help in developing each one’s personality and to accompany them in their growth so that, with others, they may become citizens and Christians, useful members of Congolese society. 
 
In every organism there are laws, norms and institutions to be observed and followed. The same holds for our Congolese education. 
The majority of the schools in the DRC have a Parents’ Committee. However, we did not yet have one. 
The role of the committee is to be place or a bridge between the school and the parents. 
 
After two or three weeks of activities at the school an inspector arrived to examine the educational and administrative documents. Everything was in order. When he realised that the school did not have a Parents’ Committee and that we had fixed the school fees without their approval he penalised us by suspending the directress. I’ll leave out the details of all the formalities I had to go through in order to inform the various services of my suspension and, I can assure you, it was laborious. However, I quickly convoked a general assembly of all the parents. This was on Saturday the 24th November 2012. 
 
We contacted Monsieur Makalebo Bokiando, the communal president of the National Association of Parents of Pupils and Students in the Congo: "ANAPECO". He came to chair this assembly. There were 96 parents for the 116 schoolchildren, all very interested and anxious to understand and to give their opinion. 
 
The meeting began at 9 o’clock. It was a very good thing that Mr Makalebo was there to control things, bringing some order into the contributions that arrived from all sides. Many parents presented themselves to be president, vice-president, secretary, assistant secretary, treasurer, assistant treasurer. They stood up and came to the table to explain the reasons why they felt they would be suitable for these positions. 
 
Seven members had to be elected, on a show of hands. It was necessary to count the votes for each candidate very carefully. 
With great skill and incredible patience, Mr Makalebo saw the work through and about 2 p.m. those who had been elected were applauded by the whole assembly. 
 
What this event highlights: 
  • The active participation of the parents with the good of their children in mind.
  • The freedom of speech the parents had and the respect that was shown by the way they listened to one another.
  • The skill of Mr Makalebo which furthered this freedom in speaking by managing the groups and giving instructions to be respected by the whole assembly.
  • The good atmosphere of that assembly, the first time in six years. The parents remained until 2 p.m. without becoming tired.
  • That day will be a memorable one in the history of the school. For my first year as directress, it was a real trial by fire. 
Already I feel that there is good collaboration between the president of the school committee and myself. I am very happy that there is this journey with the parents who attach importance to the moral and spiritual education of their children.
 
Sr Marcelline, Little Sister
29/04/2013
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