The Tumaini Letu Drc Project
About Our Project:
The Tumaini Letu project will be located in Ciruko, In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and will serve a population of around 5000 people.The outreach focuses on three main areas: Healthcare , Education and Literacy, and Food Security, with the goal of bringing a community-run health centre, classroom, and programs to this very marginalized village.
Healthcare ; We are hoping to initiate a Community Health Centre that will provide lifesaving procedures , maternal and child health and prevention and treatment of communicable and non- communicable diseases, through extensive training of health care workers.
Education and Literacy; We are hoping to provide education to children and support the youth to minimize human trafficking and the exposure to child soldier. We will also provide school supplies and nutrition for learning to foster a positive interest. We will also introduce adult literacy and life skill activities for women and girls to foster self-sustainability .
Food security and Income Generating Activities will encourage healthy eating and prevent malnutrition in the community through modeling gardening and improving production through crop rotation and fertilising skills; providing food for the most vulnerable people in the community during the initiative phase. IGA would include life skill training like hair dressing , tailoring and small- scale panal solar retailing, and training for youth .
NEWS: Our team, in partnership with Kuishi Smart, based in Kigali, Rwanda, has returned from its exploratory mission to Ciruko… here is a summary of the report produced with the data gathered: The entire report is available as a pdf by request to email@example.com
Here is a brief video introduction from the Assessment team: https://youtu.be/yQ52Sy32HJw
Donations are gratefully accepted via etransfer to firstname.lastname@example.org
Key findings of the assessment-
With 200 on-site interviews and extensive data collecting, the assessment provided useful insights about the current situation in the village. We found that non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease (hypertension) and other health conditions such as malnutrition, chronic pain, arthritis, and diabetes are of great concern in the community. In addition, endemic and emerging infectious diseases were also found to be at a dangerously high level; most prevalent were skin infections, malaria, waterborne diseases (diarrhea, cholera), and sexually transmitted infections. Other health indicators posing concern to the community were inadequate health services, insufficient/unskilled health care providers, long distances to reach the health care facility, poverty, food insecurity, poor eating habits to name a few. Therefore, the gaps in social protection and the challenges highlighted by this study are the result of the broader need for health and food system strengthening.
Here is a chart outlining the main results from the survey collected in the village.
Summary of community health needs.
Community health issues
|Community Discussions and Open Comments
Most important issues in the community
|51.4% of participants reported that cardiovascular diseases (Hypertension), 46.9% (malnutrition, Malaria, water borne diseases), and 35% Infectious/ Contagious diseases were the top prevalent issues in the community
There is a need for creating more socioeconomic opportunities, access to clean water (WASH) and reduction of the distance between hospital and health centers since the distance is too long.
Unhealthy behavior in the community
|The survey revealed that the top unhealthy behaviors in the community were: harmful alcohol consumption (17%), domestic violence and poor eating habits both 16%, and risky sexual behavior (Prostitution)
Factors impacting wellbeing in the community
49.7% and 41.8% reported that poor eating, harmful alcohol consumption, and child abuse (31.1%) respectively were the three factors most impacting the wellbeing of community.
Health care: Affordability and health care service availability, accessibility, infrastructure
96% of the survey participants revealed that they faced difficulties to access medical care when needed. Most of reported services were dental care (88.7%), prescribed medicine (83.5%), and mental health services (89.8%). Common challenges and barriers elucidated were service availability, services cost too much, lack of health insurance, lack of skilled health care staff and their inadequacy, as well as insufficient heath facilities in the community.
Limited health care services, lack of medical diagnosis materials and equipment. Lack of medications, lack of qualified healthcare staff and community capacity to pay the health care services (finance).
Our community is facing a lack of great health centers that are able to solve medical issues, particularly in case of emergency. In addition, we need to have enough and/more trained healthcare providers (Staff).
We go to seek heath care services but we work a long distance to reach the health facility
Nutrition and food security
Ability to buy and eat healthy food was the 4th highest priority among both community
member and community leader survey respondents.
|We are facing poverty and it is hard for people to find what to eat. In addition, there is a lot of illness in the community that needs medical care. Our agriculture faces problems i.e. we do not have access to seeds for planting and domestic animals. Furthermore, education is a problem; our children have no education and no other facility in the community like churches.
Kuishi Smart Collated and analysed the data collected. The team has come up with two recommendations for next steps to bring help to Ciruko.
- The creation of a community health center to deliver safe and affordable primary healthcare services. This process could begin with mobile health units.
- The creation of micro-agricultural and financial support systems, where targeted community members will have access to agricultural and/or livestock credit, (seeds, equipment, capacity building), with start-up micro-finance credit and financial literacy training to promote socio-economic prosperity and food security within the community.
To accomplish these goals, The Tumain Letu Project is looking for partnerships, donors, volunteers, and financial support in the hopes of beginning Phase Two of the initiative in the summer of 2024.
For more information contact board member James Gordon at 226-971-9132 or email@example.com
Donations are gratefully accepted via etransfer to firstname.lastname@example.org
JUSTIN's STORY: I was born in Ciruko, a small village located in the Walungu district in the Eastern Region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The current population of Ciruko is about 5,000.
The villages surrounding Ciruko have been the centre of armed conflict during the last quarter century, following the departure of the former president Mobutu in 1997, resulting in atrocities, with systematic looting, extortions, kidnappings, killings, rape and even women’s genital mutilation perpetrated by the rebels, with most of the victims being women and children, who have often been taken and either sold or used in human trafficking or forced to be child soldiers. The majority of people remaining in these communities are widows and orphans.
The only source of income for these communities comes from crops farming, but unfortunately the soil is unproductive due to lack of crop rotations and fertilizers, and with ongoing displacement, leading to general impoverishment, devastated the entire region.
In these villages only an old primary school exists, usually located far away from the villages, requiring students to travel a long way from home, just to be educated. I, myself, am a living example of this. I attended the same school and my mom had to escort me every day around 5 o’clock in the morning to go to school. Sometimes during the rainy season many students are unable to make their way to school due to flooding.
My mother's words to me as a child continue to resonate in my ears, “My son, be patient, brave, and resilient and never lose hope.”
There still is no healthcare clinic in my village and the nearest government hospital is about 60 kilometers away. For most of the villagers, the only way to reach the hospital is on foot. In the case of emergencies, most patients are transported on traditional stretchers, and sometimes die on the way before reaching hospital. If they do make it to the hospital, to seen by a medical professional, regardless of their condition, patients must pay a fee up front. Those who do not have money readily available, or can't afford a visit at the time, are turned away, many times just to return home to die. Pregnant, indigent women often are forced to leave their families, to go to the hospital to await delivery over six weeks, to avoid risking a long trip to the hospital during labor. Women are put in this situation solely no health facilities exist closer to their villages, to even deal with minimal complications of pregnancy. As a nurse, I find this tragic and unconscionable.
Water-borne diseases, malaria, cholera, respiratory tract infections and malnutrition are preventable, and should no longer be causes of death in this 21st century. However, such conditions still claim the lives of women and children in the DRC. Poor leadership and corrupt governments are primary contributors to the challenges and suffering of the people in the DRC, especially in rural communities, where there is poor infrastructure and a lack of support. Even in the areas with a hospital, a shortage of medical supplies, medication, medical equipment and trained medical staff to treat even the least complex illnesses still results in unnecessary suffering and death.
When I was young, I used to pray to God to give my mom a long life so that she could see me grow into a responsible adult, and so that I could take care of her in the same way that she took care of me as a single mother. Unfortunately, mom too, passed away prematurely, due to an entirely preventable condition without access to the medical care that she needed. This is how my passion to become the ambassador of the voiceless started. This desire and passion increased recently when I traveled back to my district in the DRC 6 years ago and found that the same rural communities were suffering. Another trip a year later revealed things had deteriorated, worsened with government initiatives and support no longer available.
Friends and family told me the same familiar story of lacking a healthcare clinic to provide basic life-saving procedures, and expressed that the development of a healthcare system, along with education and food security would be among their greatest priorities. Although the people who we spoke to at this time, expressed a variety of challenges, two ongoing struggles consistently centered around the impact of not having a healthcare clinic to access when they are sick as well as the absence of a high school for the students who are able to go to school. They also mentioned that starvation is a real challenge due to the poor production of the lands and the lack of fertilizers.
Returning to Canada, I began sharing the reality about the gravity of poverty in the DRC with those around me and began to dream again about what we could do to help out there. My family and I have been praying for direction and we have a deep desire to help this most disadvantaged community in the DRC. We are still waiting for God’s plan to be accomplished for the wellbeing of his people in the Congo. I will continue to use my voice to share this story and I remain hopeful that this dream of making a difference in the lives of the people of the DRC one day will come true. This is my story.
I met Justin Zihindula last summer when he attended a weekend retreat that I was facilitating.
The retreat focused on health issues specifically related to refugees and New Canadians; looking for creative and effective ways to address these important matters.
Justin told me about his background growing up in an impoverished village in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and his dream of finding the resources to build a health clinic and classroom there as a way of giving back to that at-risk community now that he is established here in Canada.
Hearing his compelling story made me want to help in any way I could to make his dream come true. I don’t have a background in the health field, but as an elected official here in Guelph and as an independent entrepreneur, I started to think of using my facilitation skills to try and put interested parties together that could make what is now called the TUMAINI LETU DRC Project a reality. I travelled to neighbouring Rwanda last month and held a meeting with a health practitioner there, also from the DRC, who has experience with developing this kind of project.
This feels like a very important initiative, one that could save lives and build a future for Justin’s village of Ciruko. In Justin’s words- “we want to contribute to the change that will rekindle the flame of hope to our communities. We want to alleviate poverty and prevent malnutrition with education and programs focused on women and girls”. As you can read in Justin’s compelling story, this part of the DRC is in deep crisis and action is required immediately.
With Patient Beya’s help after the initial meeting in Kigali, a plan is coming together that would begin with Justin, along with Patient’s team from his Kuishi Smart organization, travelling to the DRC to provide initial care and to assess what the immediate needs are with creating a lasting health presence in Ciruko.
The TUMAINI LETU DRC Project is now an official non-profit organization. I am proud to serve on its board of directors.
This is where you come in! This initial GoFundMe campaign is meant to raise the funds necessary to enable the first stage of the Tumaini Project. It has been carefully budgeted and planned out to make the most use of this initial visit. We think this could be done for 12,500 dollars. We’d love to get your help with this. Whatever you can offer would be greatly appreciated.
You can make a real difference in this challenging district in the DRC. Please donate what you can, and you’ll receive updates on the project’s progress. Though there’s a long journey ahead, I am excited about the possibilities that will be created with your contribution.
Let’s make this happen together!
Sincerely, James Gordon Guelph Ontario. Here's James with Patient Beya in Kigala, Rwanda.