In the summer of 2015 Reeds of Hope began a new partnership with Emmanuel Training Center in Kinshasa, the capital of DRC. Emmanuel Training Center (ETC) is the ministry created by Paul and Micheline Manzanza, a wonderful Congolese couple with a heart to serve their community through job training and evangelism. The center currently focuses on three different skill sets- computers, language, and sewing. Reeds of Hope donors have sponsored five older orphaned kids to attend the computer course as well as five young women to join the sewing program.
In January, we joined forces with the One Thread Program, a ministry sponsoring young women and mothers to attend the sewing school. By combining our resources and efforts, we are expanding the services available to students. With the help of new sponsors we were able to We've hired a young woman named Ismael to step into this support role. She is an excellent communicator, problem solver, and advocate. In the coming months she will be getting to know each of the students and helping us to identify the areas where we can offer support and meet needs. Ismael's presence will also allow Micheline to focus on teaching and mentoring her students. Amy & Suzanne have joined our team working as our state side volunteers to manage the One Thread Program. Their enthusiasm and passion have been a great encouragement to all! We look forward to sharing more exciting updates with you in the next quarter. Several of our students will be finishing their training and we are working on plans to help Micheline open her first boutique staffed by the graduates! Next week we are sending over a suitcase full of supplies to help stock the boutique. Additionally, we are sending $150 to buy Bibles in Lingala and French, per the request of the students!
In January, we sent Paul to Bukavu to meet with the Reeds of Hope Staff. It was his first time visiting the east and he enjoyed a warm welcome from Bernard and his team. Paul and Bernard collaborated during this time, sharing their experiences with supporting orphaned children and vulnerable families. We also brought a social worker from Kigali, Rwanda. Souvenir has been practicing social work with vulnerable children and families for many years. She grew up as an orphan in Eastern DRC and understands the special needs and challenges these children face. She provided two days of in depth training, including hands on practice of gathering information and creating reports. She will continue her communication with our Kinshasa team via Skype with Paul and Ismael over the next four months. We will share more about this work in the coming months, but the goal of these trainings are to learn how to 1) Keep children in families despite the constraints of extreme poverty, 2) Reunify children with their families when that is a safe and viable option, and 3) Move orphaned children into new Congolese families. Paul and Micheline recently adopted a child and are committed to helping other local families do the same. Paul was also able to spend a day meeting with Greg Herring, an American businessman who works with Congolese to design and grow small businesses. He shared that he was, "very impressed with Paul- one of the best business/ministry minds he has seen in Congo!" This time was helpful to Paul as ETC is growing and expanding its services. We are very excited for what the future holds!
In January, ETC moved to a new location. This compound provides security and five classrooms to teach language and computer classes. Additionally, the cyber cafe is being assembled. I had the opportunity to Skype with Paul and the Colk students who will be running the business with Paul. They were eager to practice greeting me in English and expressed their gratitude to those of you who have made these opportunities possible. A fundraiser in February allowed us to purchase a $2,000 generator that will provide power despite the notorious Kinshasa brown outs. This week we are sending over a suitcase of extension cords, headphones, and computer speakers to finish outfitting the cyber cafe and classrooms.
We promised to pass this message along to each of you from Paul:
"I would like to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything: the organisation, support, suggestion, training and for allowing me to take part to the training.
My thanks are also directed to everyone who has contributed in one way or another to our work.
My prayer is that God should give us the strength in order to put into practice everything we have learned."
We want to extend our deep gratitude for your financial and prayerful support of this work.