Every year, thousands gather at DRC Mining Week in Lubumbashi. However, for organiser VUKA Group, its involvement in the country goes far beyond delivering the largest mining event on the Copperbelt.
The company is also committed to ensuring a brighter future for orphaned and abandoned children. To that end, it supports BUMI, a project that aims to offer a better future for vulnerable children. Compiled by GERARD PETER.
BUMI, meaning ‘life’ in the Luba language, is a humanitarian and development NGO based in the DRC. Established in 1985 by Thérèse Ilunga and Lucien Moser, it initially focused on responding to the problems of public health, underdevelopment, and poverty by ensuring the protection and education of young people and orphaned or vulnerable children.
It was established in northern Katanga, where several villages suffered from armed conflicts. Initially, BUMI’s activity consisted of raising awareness among residents about hygiene, peace, and respect for fundamental rights. In 1992, the city of Lubumbashi experienced violent political and social unrest which amplified the phenomenon of street children.
BUMI then refocused its humanitarian and social actions on the reception, protection, and education of these orphaned or abandoned children.
“In short, BUMI has chosen to educate and protect children in need. Our mission is to raise them in a setting worthy of their childhood and stimulate their manual, intellectual and artistic skills, giving them a taste for autonomy and independence. Thus, they will become true citizens, capable of propelling their country on the path of development,” explains Co-founder Lucien Moser.
To date, BUMI has ensured the protection and education of more than 1 500 children. The organisation provides protection and education to street children, abandoned children, so-called ‘witch’ children, orphans, AIDS orphans, children in family distress and those that are sexually or economically exploited. It seeks to offer a better future to hundreds of orphaned, abandoned, or lost children by allowing them to rebuild a family environment, go to school and learn a trade.
Over the years, it has established several initiatives to achieve its objectives. This includes a children’s village with six family houses, providing kindergarten, primary, secondary and vocational education, family reunification and social integration through vocational training such as agro-pastoral, sewing, masonry, tin-smithing, craftsmanship and catering.
In addition, BUMI’s community health centre provides access to healthcare for children attending its schools and for disadvantaged populations living near the children’s village. Its agro-pastoral training and production programme, BUMI Resources, allows for organic market gardening and the breeding of animals for self-consumption and sale.
Moser states that education is one of the fundamental objectives of BUMI, which is why two schools have been created: Kamalondo school and Karavia. “The school in Kamalondo also welcomes nearly 200 day children from the poorest families in Lubumbashi at reduced registration fees. A child can be educated from the first year of primary school to the sixth year of secondary school with the options of pedagogy, commercial and management, cutting and sewing, literature, auto mechanics and general mechanics. A computer room is also available for individual learning.”
Donations further BUMI’s work
VUKA Group has been a sponsor of BUMI since 2018. To date, the company has donated approximately US$15 500 to the organisation. The first donation, in 2018, enabled BUMI to carry out renovation work on the dormitory of the Kamalondo reception centre as well as an additional room which is used to train more than 26 young people in cutting and sewing.
“It allowed them to buy a motorbike which our educators in charge of the family reintegration programme use to go out into the field, and it also allowed us to pay the salary of our specialist educator in charge of the programme,” Moser adds.
The second donation was invested in the BUMI Resources programme for the creation of a nursery to train some of our young people in arboriculture. The third donation enabled the purchase of a three-month food supply for the children of the village of Karavia as well as for the payment of educators and caregivers at the mother and children health centre.
The most recent donation has made it possible to start the renovation works of the pink house (for older teenage girls) housing 20 girls and the purchase of a television.
“Also, every year we have benefitted from a free stand at DRC Mining Week, and this has allowed us to have visibility with certain subcontracting companies that offer services to miners. We are also able to exhibit some of the products made at our cutting and sewing workshop in the Karavia children’s village.
“VUKA Group supported us in providing initial comfort to BUMI children by rehabilitating and enhancing family homes. Thanks to the company, our educators can better maintain the link between the family and the children who are welcomed into our system,” concludes Moser.