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February 16, 2012
1 person found this review helpful

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February 16, 2012
1 person found this review helpful

As soon as I found out about the work of Congo Initiative, I started giving to their programs monthly, and praying for them. While I have never been to the D.R. Congo, it means so much to me that Congo Initiative is working to build up strong and courageous women and men who will lead the D.R. Congo's future generations. I am inspired that Congo Initiative is promoting justice and nation-building on their campus...a campus where women are being respected, valued, and equipped for leadership! And, I am grateful that Congo Initiative is caring for disadvantaged women, and teaching them important skills. I wish I had even more to give. Being a Kipepeo Partner is the least I can do to help.

Davita Maharaj
Masters candidate in International Human Rights Law
Oxford University

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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

February 15, 2012
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February 15, 2012
1 person found this review helpful

My husband, Kirby Frank, and I committed to a trip to DR Congo to visit our daughter, Chelsie Frank, who has worked here for 4 years. Our trip was a “sensory overload” of sights, sounds, smells, and feelings. I almost did not go on the trip after reading a little about the country, its poverty, violence among tribes and faction groups, its political corruption, and health issues—almost letting fear get in the way of a great learning and growing experience. I’m glad Spirit led me past this fear…
Sights: Beautiful green scenery, with blue, sun-filled sky; dust everywhere from unpaved roads, women carrying laundry, or water, or SOMETHING on their heads, while carrying a small child on their backs, small children (8-12 years or so) carrying water, pushing bikes with bananas to the market, garbage everywhere on the main roads, men and women sitting along the side of the road, selling their fruits/vegetables, and also in the huge marketplace, earning about $20.00 a month, not seeing very many elderly persons (average lifespan male is 40 years old, female 55 years old); seeing the clinic/hospital with minimal means of caring for people but dedicated, compassionate health workers doing their respective jobs with joy, church worshippers singing loudly and joyfully with hope and faith, UCBC leadership challenging students to look beyond what they know to a vision of hope and change, UCBC students taking them up on that challenge and learning and growing in leadership, service to their communities, and knowledge in their particular major field, with dreams and goals to make their country a stronger, better place; meeting NGO (non-government organizations) workers with commitment and care working with the Congolese people, the “tree supports” of buildings, mud huts, thatched roofs,
Sounds: Motorcycles (the main mode of transportation); music, radio,
Smells: Charcoal fires, great food, dust,

It was recommended that we not take pictures in DRCongo, except inside UCBC, or at Chelsie’s home. So, I don’t have pictures to share, only in my mind where they are seered forever in my memory.
There are also locked gates, overnight guards, and a “cautious” attitude about walking the streets at night. This was reality that I didn’t get used to in my short stay there, but upon further reflection in the USA we have apartment/condo entry systems (locked gates?) and a 911 system, and police/fire system in place to monitor and “watch over us” (guard?) and I don’t walk the streets after dark in too many places, unless I am with someone) so, it isn’t so different. Also, these things took a back seat to the very warm and hospitable welcome we received from EVERYONE we were introduced to, and the call to relationship that each person invited us into.

The UCBC, funded by Congo Initiative, is an incredible place. The students we spoke to really have “caught the message” of the mission, and are hopeful and dedicated to making positive change in DRCongo with their leadership skills and passion for their chosen field. The staff there are faith-filled, hard-working, inspirational, dedicated—mostly Congolese professors who witness what hard work, education, faith, forgiveness and resiliency can bring…
There are gardens that help support the university’s food supply, goats, and chickens, too—there is a radio station, library, small computer lab with limited internet service, classrooms of 12-15 students, except for a few larger “auditorium classroom” lectures, 500 students and staff that fill up the space with learning and hope.
The stories of the service learning projects that many classes have participated in were inspirational and courageous. One group reached out to the deaf student school, where they participated in mentoring and teaching and helped raise some money by making soap, af ter learning the teaching aren’t paid, and tuition is waived for parents who don’t have means to pay. They became aware of how these students are alientated from others. And learned that “Disability doesn’t mean Inability.” Another group went to the local movie theaters to challenge the owners to offer more than the violent, immoral types of movies that are mostly offered. Another group built benches on the campus for students to sit on under shade. The concept of service learning appeared to be a new one for the students, and I can already see Spirit working as a “domino effect” and this will spread far and wide over the next years as the students, then the Congolese people, are empowered to effect positive change with a dream, a little effort, a little faith and thus a stronger, better community! Kudos to Chelsie Frank for her vision and leadership in putting this program together, along with the other USBC professors and staff.

After taking in all these moments, I found myself leaving DRCongo with a change in perspective: I came feeling despair and fear; believing that what the Congolese people have been through, and continue to have challenges about, was too overwhelming, too entrenched to be much different. I left feeling a great faith and hope as I witnessed the staff and students commit to a vision faith in a God who loves and cares for them, a vision of integrity, honesty, hard work, and a vision of change for a better DRCongo. I asked David Kasali, the UCBC President, if he was afraid of doing what he was doing--for himself or his family-- because change is always threatening to people of influence and power. His reply, “I am more afraid of NOT doing what I do—out country’s future depends on it.” Spoken just like our OT prophets, and of Jesus himself—and why the Scriptures have more passages with the message “Be Not Afraid” more than any other subject matter. I left feeling humbled that I could even sit among these people, grateful for the opportunity as it leaves me feeling empowered and renewed to be open to God’s challenges in my own life, and hopeful for our world and the DRCongo that “peace and goodwill among men (and women), is possible if we but trust and “work for the kingdom here on earth.”


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When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

February 14, 2012

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February 14, 2012

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.

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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!

December 9, 2011

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December 9, 2011


I am Francine NABINTU, I have graduated from UCBC in communications. Actually, I am one of the rare Congolese women who are skilled in multimedia and journalism. I got my state diploma in 2000 and did not have any vision for my future life, except getting married and take care of my husband
and children as any authentic African girl could think. But, coming to UCBC had changed my vision, perception and hope about myself and my country.
I was challenged by an American multimedia professor, Anne Medley, who came to teach us at UCBC thanks to some donors. She showed us pity stories of Congo that had been told by foreign journalists. The most heard stories of Congo are: war, corruption, rape, bad management or anything of such kind. She asked us why we can’t tell our own stories to change the image of our country. Since than I am getting more and more interested in writing stories, www.francongostories.blogspot.com; editing audio, video, photos about my community and my country.
Thanks to UCBC I now have a vision for my country: “to speak for those who suffer in silence”. Since women have suffered a lot in my country, I have joined the office of Gender Advisor at HEAL Africa. I am dealing with Gender issues within the organization and networking with many women associations. I am applying my communication skills for advocacy and mobilization to change the perception of woman’s place in the society.
I thank Congo Initiative for the seed of hope that they have sown in me and in the life of many Congolese women and men. I do not have enough words to thank anyone who contributes to support ever so little UCBC. May the lord continue to touch and bless you as the fruit of your work will benefit a whole nation.

Photos

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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?

Life-changing

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?

2011

October 27, 2011

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October 27, 2011

I have the privilege of working on behalf of Congo Initiative, and have done so for more than 3 years. My role has been to assist in coordinating communication and development efforts in the United States--raising awareness and resources, as well as human resources and other administrative responsibilities. I have also had the opportunity to visit Beni last year and to spend some time with our General Assembly (Congolese Board of Directors) as well as our incredible leadership team.

What I find so compelling about Congo Initiative is its commitment to genuine, international partnership. "Partnership" is a term that is used quite loosely in many different settings, but Congo Initiative is really trying to live out what it means for a North American entity and an African organization to work side-by-side, not above or below the other, but truly in mutual collaboration and dialog. It's much harder than it sounds, and messier than we might like to admit. From my vantage point, I get to see the inner workings of it all, and I can attest to the fact that it can (and does!) really work, IF an organization and its people have the patience, grace, humility and shared vision to see it through for the long haul. It’s far too easy for North Americans, despite every good intention, to assume “control” of an international organization, and far too few organizations are really doing the hard work of collaboration that is reciprocal between offices in the Global North and those in the Global South. Congo Initiative, however, is doing this, and doing it well, albeit imperfectly.

Others have articulated better than I how life-changing and transformational CI’s education, leadership development and community initiatives are. I echo all that has been written in other reviews along these lines. For sure CI has a long way to go—other than UCBC (Christian Bilingual University of Congo), none of the other Community Centers have been officially launched, although some are active periodically in hosting workshops and seminars of various kinds. We still have a lot of construction on campus that needs to be completed. We have a brand new radio station, but we need permanent staff to manage it, and we need many more permanent faculty for the university, not to mention staff to lead and organize each of the Community Centers. Despite all of this, however, I am amazed at the courage and resiliency of our Congolese leadership to press on. Our students are filled with real hope that they can actually be part of bringing change to a broken country. Even a brief visit to the campus in Beni leaves one with the palpable feeling that the staff and students truly believe in their motto: “Being transformed to transform.” More than just a catchphrase, these remarkable women and men are living out this motto on a daily basis through their hope, perseverance and faith, even in the midst of seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

I strongly encourage you to support this initiative. It is a unique example of an interational partnership forged to bring about holistic transformation in a country the size of the U.S. east of the Mississippi river. A vast land with enormous potential to shape the future of an entire continent. Can you aim any higher than that?

Ways to make it better...

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

Seek to recruit more educators and professionals who can help train our Congolese faculty.

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How does this organization compare with others in the same sector?

Very Well

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

Life-changing

Will you recommend this organization to others?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

What is unique about this organization?

Its commitment to international partnership that is mutual and reciprocal. Its emphasis on higher education as the channel for raising up a new generation of leaders and for serving the wider community.

October 17, 2011

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October 17, 2011

I visited UCBC in Beni last year and spent the week in meetings with the Congo Board and attending the convocation ceremony to open the new school year. Having lived and worked in Africa for over 30 years, I can truly say that I have never been anywhere in Africa that was so full of hope, excitement and potential for transformation. The UCBC campus is a beacon of light to the community and is poised to become a model of 21st century education for Africa. As a US board member I am honored to be part of an authentic partnership with the Congo board and part of a real transformative organization.

The Great!

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

serving as a board member and visiting UCBC in Beni.

Ways to make it better...

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

develop more opportunities to generate resources.

More feedback...

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

Definitely

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

Life-changing

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

How did you learn about this organization?

from a friend

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

October 17, 2011
1 person found this review helpful

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October 17, 2011
1 person found this review helpful

I came to Beni to visit Congo Initiative's program at UCBC with the Service Learning Coordinator, Chelsie Frank. I work in Kampala, Uganda with a nonprofit organization called Cornerstone Development, which works in 'youth leadership development' in East Africa. One of our programs, African Youth Leadership Forum (AYLF) has included students from UCBC who have started their own branch of AYLF on campus.

While visiting UCBC, I immediately recognized the shared values of our organizations and was very impressed with the commitment to invest in young leaders with high potential and high character. The students and staff at UCBC are clearly dedicated to their country and community, with a vision to encourage leaders with integrity, which I believe is a top priority in moving any country forward.

I was particularly impressed with the staff's commitment to continually evaluate and improve their programs. During my visit, I saw their brand new radio station that will be used to educate the community about UCBC's programs, about how the community can be involved in spreading their vision and values, and to give students valuable experience in working with a radio program.

I'm certain that this program will contribute greatly to the positive development of each student and the region as a whole and I look forward to further partnering with Congo Initiative.

The Great!

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

developing future leaders. I sat with a group of students who conveyed to me their vision of working with local communities to create dialogue on voter education, of connecting with other students across East Africa to discuss issues of leadership, and of spreading their initiatives to the surrounding cities. These students showed a very high level of personal initiative and creative thinking with all of these projects.

Ways to make it better...

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

further enable the Service Learning program. I appreciate their desire to reach out to the community with voter education efforts, mentor training, community service projects, and other worthy initiatives.

October 16, 2011

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October 16, 2011

The Congo Initiative's UCBC Service Learning Coordinator, Chelsie Noel Frank, is my personal friend. I have known her both state side in the US as well had the privilege to connect with her on a mission trip to the Eastern DRC. In both capacities she has shared the vision of the local Congolese people and the ground swell of their passions to transform their society and their country. The CI and the UCBC are manifestations of such visions. I also had the privilege to get to know UCBC's Academic Dean Honore Bunduki Kwany. His calling and life commitment to the CI and UCBC is filled with hope and compassion for his people and it is contagious. While the CI and UCBC desperately need our help, we in turn need theirs. It is in the true exchange of finances and relationships, that both of us can become something better and beautiful. I encourage anyone called to check it out and give of yourselves, you and they will never be the same.
-Chris Nielsen

The Great!

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

personal contact and travel to Eastern DRC

Ways to make it better...

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

give more of myself to it and encourage others to consider

October 15, 2011

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October 15, 2011

I visited Eastern Congo in 2004 with Dr. David Kasali and Pastor Dick Robinson and an Elmbrook team on a vision trip. The upstart was, the planting of a seed to sow the future of the University Christian Bilingual
of Congo UCBC. The Congolese seem to be a happy family oriented people, but 50
years behind in commerce, educational opportunities and technology. The young clearly want more. They want educational opportunites, business opportunities and political stability....the establishment of UCBC is a big step in that direction. The task was daunting with little money, little political support and problematic communication (no English). However, moving ahead 2011 graduated the first class of 100 students, due to the exceptional volunteers-architects, technology support and monies provided through grants, trusts and generous personal giving. Congo Initiative is a charitable organization supporting this effort.

There are many parts of the university not completed, technology not installed and students not enrolled because of the lack of financial support.

Congo Initiative needs your help!

The Great!

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

Personal support

Ways to make it better...

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

none

October 13, 2011

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October 13, 2011

I had the honor of visiting Beni, Congo with a few pastors and several businessmen prior to the establishment of the school. In addition to spending extensive time with David we visited with numerous pastors, area businessmen and local politicians. I have continued to follow the progress of the school from afar and have both donated to the Congo Initiative and provided some financial assistance to visitors over the past several years. What has been accomplished to date is truly amazing!

More feedback...

Was your donation impactful?

Likely

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

Likely

How likely are you to donate to this group again?

Likely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

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3 hours of volunteer time for this nonprofit will...

research current events in D.R. Congo, write book summaries on D.R. Congo, provide feedback on marketing materials, respond to general inquiry communications