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Congo Initiative

Rating: 4.92 stars   38 reviews 5,983

Nonprofit Issues:

Education

Address:

P.O. Box 246 Germantown WI 53022 USA

Mission:

Congo Initiative’s mission is facilitate transformation—transformation of communities, the society, and the nation of the Democratic Republic of Congo. An audacious goal? Absolutely! But Congo Initiative is meeting its mission. Congo Initiative is realizing its vision to “train and develop indigenous, Christian leaders” who have the skills and moral courage necessary to lead the changes necessary for DR Congo to flourish and become a beacon of light in the continent and the world.

Results:

* UCBC will graduate its first class of students, July 2011. * Forty-eight graduates will receive their diplomas, having completed their undergraduate studies at UCBC. * Major grant from Eastern Congo Initiative awarded in April 2011 for civic education, gender equity initiatives, radio/media infrastructure and technological development for academic programming. * In April 2010 UCBC received its official charter and full accreditation from the Congolese government. * Construction on the University Chapel and Community Center, the centerpiece of the UCBC campus, nearly half-completed, is currently used for classrooms, meetings, and chapel.

Target demographics:

* The majority of students at UCBC are between the ages of 18 and 24. * Community members served through the Centers for Community and Family Renewal and Creative Arts are members across the local community--from children through adults. * The Center for Church Renewal and Global Missions and the Center for Professional Development target adults in the immediate community as well as the region of eastern DRC.

Direct beneficiaries per year:

1000

Geographic areas served:

Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (North Kivu province)

Programs:

Service Learning at UCBC: http://ucbcservice-learning.blogspot.com/

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More Info

919-641-8198
www.congoinitiative.org

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Reviews for Congo Initiative

Rating: 5 stars  

My heart still resides in Beni with the students & faculty of UCBC, with the ladies of The Women's Center, and with the students of The Language Institute! This place is the home that God gave to me & will forever be my Promised Land! Please help this worthy cause that is changing the world for the better!

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

2 people found this review helpful

Having lived in Beni, DRC back in the 80's and having prayed for the people there for many years, we are delighted that this university is a light shining bright in what can be a great darkness. Isn't that what God has called us to do? Bring light into the darkness and expose those things in our lives that need to be changed, that we might be transformed! This is exactly what UCBC (Congo Initiative) is doing. There is so much work to be done, to some it may appear impossible, but nothing is impossible with God! We are grateful to Him that we can join Him in supporting an organization that is so positive.

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

We love the mission and values of CI. We admire the organization's focus on bringing Christ's transformational life and love to the people of the Congo through higher education. It is a very much needed work and it is a joy to be able to partner with CI in their work through giving.

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

Congo Initiative has an inspiring vision for transformation of the nation of DR Congo through Christ-based transformation of its future leaders. By establishing UCBC -- a new university in Beni, in the Eastern part of DRC -- and developing other community-based programs in the city (programs for women and children, social justice, primary education, spiritual renewal, agricultural support, radio broadcasting, environmental care, etc.), Congo Initiative is doing hard and important work, and I am proud to support the ministry through time and giving. I have been inspired by the vision of the founder, Dr. David Kasali, and the committed work of the people that work for the ministry. I have also had a chance to visit the campus in person to see the fruits of the ministry's effort first-hand, and that was truly amazing.

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

I've been supporting Congo Initiative through their Kipepeo project since 2008. The reason I started was because I wanted to give something back after having been given, debt-free, an excellent education at Wheaton College. Knowing how much Wheaton impacted my life I was inspired by the idea of giving the same opportunity to students in Congo, even though I've never visited that country.

I've faithfully supported Congo Initiative from a distance (I live in Guatemala, Central America). However, what helped me to understand the project deeper was to read Dr David Kasali's biography. I received it in the mail and set it aside One day I just started leafing through, and I couldn't put it down! I read the whole thing and even cried through parts of it because of how real and beautiful God's working has been in the lives of the Kasalis. Thanks to Congo Initiative for being such an innovative, excellent and faith-filled group of people.

Sarah Agee

 
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1 previous review
Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

I support Congo Initiative as a Kipepeo partner, giving a small amount monthly to help students with their tuition. Having gone to a Christian Liberal Arts college in the US, I know how formative the college years are, and how important it is to have professors who integrate Christian character with good scholarship and social concern. As an American, I have been overwhelmingly blessed with educational opportunities, and one of the small ways I can "give back" is by helping those who, because they live in another country, have not been given the advantages I have. I want these Congolese young people to grow to a holistic understanding of God's goodness and grace for them and for their whole country. This is why I give to the Congo Initiative.

Was your donation impactful?

Definitely

How likely is it that you would recommend that a friend donate to this group?

Definitely

How likely are you to donate to this group again?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

What would you tell others about this organization?

This is an excellent organization!

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

Republic of Congo... what a place!
I have taught in U.S. colleges, in Uganda, and in Congo.
The difference was huge.
My students at the University were gems to teach. They were so hungry for truth and for education that would help them to succeed for themselves, for their God, and for their country.
I would gladly teach them anywhere and anytime.
Sometimes I felt helpless in Congo. I was not helpless for myself... it was for the whole situation.
Dr. Kasali and others were there for me 24 hours a day and I never felt in danger or in any way unsupported. Looking back on it I have realized that everyone was sacrificing more than I did just to have me come over and teach.
I taught Christian Formation....a course about growing in Christ and working toward more holiness throughout one's life. The windows were behind my students,,, so as I taught them I saw other students making concrete blocks across the campus and nearby women and children gong to the spring to draw water. The pregnant woman with two small children helping her to carry water was the most poignant example of the depth of the tragedy that is Congo. I will never drink water, read scripture for the water of life, or shelter from the rain without remembering UCBC.
(It was like watching two worlds at once. The women and their little children drew water into large plastic containers because they were thirsty, and the students were just as thirsty for the water of life... while other students were making building materials that would keep rain off their heads.)
Beni is such a heartbreaking city with a light of great hope in it. I was blessed to be part of the teaching. I would recommend it to any Christian teacher who wants to volunteer somewhere in the world where it will make a profound difference on you to go there.

I recommend Dr. David Kasali, his staff, and the students to you. Teaching at UCBC or supporting the effort is prayer and money well spent.

My health will not allow me to go back. Will someone volunteer in my place?

Dr. W Michael McCrocklin

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

Congo is one of those places that both captures our imaginations and breaks our hearts. It feels like a place where the Light sometimes stands little chance against the dark. So rich in natural resources but so damaged for so long by colonialism and warring factions, Congo’s needs sometimes seem overwhelming.

Then along comes Congo Initiative—offering real hope in the shape of a new generation of leaders and offering people like us an opportunity to make a small but meaningful difference. Founder and Director David Kilgali was once a guest in our home, and he impressed us with his vision and integrity. In addition, a friend of ours believes so much in the work of Congo Initiative that she has given up her career here and moved from the U.S. to Congo to invest her life there. We get regular updates from her about the good, if challenging, work of Congo Initiative. Even without these personal connections, giving to Congo Initiative would have been an easy decision for us because we believe that one of the best ways to achieve lasting change in Congo is through accomplishing CI's mission of raising up new leaders.

Was your donation impactful?

Definitely

How likely is it that you would recommend that a friend donate to this group?

Definitely

How likely are you to donate to this group again?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

We give because we see the huge potential for future transformation of the Congo through students who go to UCBC. My husband Josh has been to UCBC four times, from 2008 and 2009, and I joined Josh for one of the trips as well. He was fortunate to spend a number of months there and really get to know some of the students while helping promote agriculture and sustainable land use at UCBC. He worked with the students during their work programs: cutting grass with machetes, breaking the sod with hoes, and planting crops. The work program at UCBC is so important because educated people in the Congo are normally seen as people who direct others, and are not always willing to get their hands dirty. By stressing hard work as well as academics, UCBC is training a new class of Congolese university graduates who are ready to really do some transforming work as they graduate and go into communities with the values and education they picked up at UCBC.

I was still in school when we were visited, and Josh went back to school for my PhD when we returned. At this time when we are unable to be in Beni at UCBC, we still really believe in the work there and want to support it however we can. We know the building fund is important, but supporting the students is what we really connected with. Many of the students really struggle to get the school fees necessary to attend UCBC, often having to ask relatives for support, and the student's families often have to make huge sacrifices for the opportunity for their children to attend. By setting aside money each month, we are able to support the great work UCBC is doing whileJosh is finishing school. By being a Kipepeo partner, we hope to help Congo become a better place through a student we help support.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

A lot

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

2 people found this review helpful

After hearing about CI's great work in Beni several years ago, I finally had the chance to visit in June 2012. While I was only in Beni for a few days, it was important to see and hear from the administration, faculty and students how they are practically realizing their mission, specifically of raising up new Christian leaders at UCBC to lead the transformation of Congo. One of the distinctives of CI is their emphasis on developing Congolese leadership, and I saw this modeled by the godly leadership of UCBC's administration. I was glad to see how international partners are included in supporting roles, and now I hope to find a way to return and contribute! I was also blessed by the incredible hospitality I received, and the eagerness of my hosts to make me feel welcome.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

Likely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

I visited Beni for one month (June 2012) and taught two courses at UCBC, in the Faculty of Theology. I was richly blessed by the experience, and hope to continue working with Congo Initiative. First of all, as others have pointed out in their reviews, this is an organization with a bold vision and a radical dependence on God. Secondly, it represents a true partnership of individuals and groups from the global south and north, with Congolese staff at the forefront. This was the impression I had when I first heard of Congo Initiative, and this impression was confirmed by my actual visit. As an African myself (though not Congolese), I was inspired to see how CI is finding a new way, challenging standard NGO models, and demonstrating innovative servant leadership by Africans. Because of UCBC's aim to transform the Congolese educational system, I was encouraged and given tools to help me implement creative approaches to teaching that enabled students to be empowered agents in their own education. The staff and students are very warm and welcoming, and I had a good balance of guidance/support and room for independence. The university is in the midst of developing a strategic plan, so some of the issues that they will need to address in the coming years, as they grow and expand and refine the implementation of their vision, are already well-known to the staff. One of the challenges they face is that everyone has too much to do, due to financial limitations which do not permit expansion of staff and facilities. Beyond the university, CI has a number of centers which are just as active, in their own way, as the university. While this is wonderful, and they are doing amazing work, I sensed that the decentralized format combined with the need for greater central coordination meant that some resources in personnel and diversity of gifts and talents are not always fully utilized. Coordination of communication is also an issue, although I think part of that for me was the fact that I am an outsider and still learning how the mechanisms for communication (among staff, between administration and staff, to the students) functions here. I hope that they will be able to provide more of a participatory role for the students themselves, so that they feel greater ownership about the policies and activities of the university. The service-learning project (e.g., in the class on DRC Realities) provided an excellent example of the effectiveness of student participation. Also, in my class, the students presented a chapel service to demonstrate and disseminate what they had learned about reconciliation and conflict (and, simultaneously, about theologies of music and worship). They did an excellent job, and introduced creative innovations which have the potential to impact the status quo at the university and in the communities in which they live and work. One other issue is the bilingual piece. On the one hand, I think it is an excellent goal to educate students to be able to participate in the anglophone and francophone worlds, which is critical for the development of DRC. On the other hand, UCBC has not yet gotten where it needs and wants to be in terms of bilingual education. I taught my courses in English, and had a translator, which made things easy for me (I speak some French, but am very far from fluent). However, I noticed that some of the students whose English skills were not as strong as their colleagues struggled somewhat with the English portions of the course, even when a translator was present. The university is new, and I am not sure if the bilingual piece is something that just needs more time to develop, or if more effective mechanisms need to be put into place to ensure that all students achieve proficiency in English. Also, if funding could be expanded, it is important that more Congolese and other African faculty can be employed on an ongoing basis, with visiting faculty in a supplementary role, and all faculty be provided with training and support to enhance their pedagogical effectiveness and improve the implementation of UCBC's innovative vision for Congolese education. This is already being done, but could be done even more extensively and regularly. I understand they are working on improving their faculty development. Mary Henton has done a great job facilitating this, and I learned a lot about the UCBC models of pedagogy from her. All this having been said, it is clear that the road to meaningful and sustainable transformation in the DRC is a long one, and I greatly admire the work the Congo Initiative is already doing. I pray that God will enable them to continue on this path, growing and learning as they go, and I hope to accompany them on that journey, in whatever ways I can.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

visiting the university and the offices of one of the centers; working at the university; speaking with administration, staff and students; corresponding with staff and administrators before my visit; hearing from other people in the community about their impressions of UCBC

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

enable them to increase funding so they can (among other things) afford to employ more Congolese faculty to teach more regularly and to expand their training for all faculty in the innovative methods and vision which CI wishes to foster; expand their arts program, integrating it with their other activities (service learning, social justice, classroom learning, etc.); increase the number of Congolese and other African women involved in the leadership and teaching at UCBC (beyond those already involved).

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

A lot

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

What one change could this group make that would improve your volunteer experience?

Maybe an orientation session for instructors before we come (perhaps via Skype or something?) Bethany (staff person) and other staff and administrators were INCREDIBLY helpful before and during my visit, and there are some things for which one cannot really prepare beforehand. But a standardized (and updated) orientation would be great, including information on educational standards and procedures, what to expect/how to prepare for the bilingual aspect, academic schedules (hours of instruction, academic calendar, etc.), the situation with electricity and internet access (so we can know in advance how much outside work we can realistically get done while we are in Beni), etc.

Did your volunteer experience have an effect on you? (teaching you a new skill, or introducing new friends, etc.)

Very much so! I was blessed by my time here in many ways, including: learning about the situation in the DRC first-hand (though I was not here long enough to get more than a glimpse); acquiring professional experience teaching; being introduced to and inspired by a vision for multifaceted transformation (social, ecclesiological, spiritual, national, etc.); learning better how to listen; being compelled to challenge my own stereotypes; making many new friends; and feeling compelled by the experience to maintain a long-term commitment to DRC and the work of Congo Initiative.

How did this volunteer experience make you feel?

Satisfied, inspired, full of ideas for future possibilities (both for new CI projects and the refinement of current practices), excited about all I have learned from the administrators, staff, and students, conscious of having experienced just a small glimpse into the situation in the DRC and hoping to learn more in the future, deeply moved by having found sisters and brothers in Christ here with whom I trust I will grow in friendship and love and learning, humbled by my own ignorance but thankful for God's grace and the patience of my Congolese and international sisters and brothers, frustrated at the obstacles and problems with which my Congolese sisters and brothers deal on a daily basis; hopeful that God will indeed transform this country and that CI will play an important role in that work.

 
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