Friday we visited our two most remote schools, Ecole Primaire Ihemba and Institute Ihemba. From our interviews we gathered that this community was probably the most impoverished, and of the students we surveyed, they were consistently the only ones in their families to be receiving an education.
Here’s one telling interview with Aganze Cikarhulika, a 19 year old boy in grade 11 (5ieme).
Who do you live with?
A: My grandfather, my four sisters and two brothers
What does your grandfather do?
He is too old to work, he begs.
How do you survive?
Our neighbours often provide us food
Do any of your siblings study?
What do you do when you get home from school?
What are your favourite subjects?
French and English
What do you like to do when you are not studying?
Sing, play guitar, write stories
What is your dream job?
In your opinion, what is Congo’s biggest problem?
The on-going war and the all the different types of poverty and distress is causes
What does education mean to you?
Opportunities to improve my quality of life
If you could give back to your community in one way, what would it be?
I would enroll orphans that, like me, could not afford to attend school.
The main issues with the Ihemba’s are the multitude of orphans that remain foraging on the streets and not in the classroom. For the principals, the best way to improve the schools structures (which are also in extremely poor condition) is to enroll more students to increase monthly revenues, then re-invest that money into construction.
Since we last visited, two more classrooms had been built. Unfortunately, wood was all they could afford to build these structures, which is significantly less durable than brick. In fact, part of the reason these were built were to take students out of some of the other wooden classes that are dangerously close to collapsing.
Saturday had us visiting Complex Scolaire Furaha. Of our 15 schools this one was the most recently opened receiving its government certification four years ago. The school’s architecture is the most interesting, yet at the same time also quite worrying. Located in Kadutu district, halfway between Nyantende and Bukavu’s city centre, the school cannot be accessed by car and requires a 3 minute walk by the paths carved out between houses, shops and the exposed drainage channels.
C.S Furaha exists solely because of its Principal, Weselas (standing). Weselas was an orphan himself and has made it his goal to enroll the community’s orphans and put them on a path to better lives.
He is a very resourceful man and the school’s structure demonstrates the will and vision he had to make the school happen. It is a two floor building situated on a steep hill in a dense, slum-like neighbourhood. It is made entirely of wood and one cannot help but feel a little nervous climbing the over-run stairs to reach the second floor.
The school’s needs are great. The structure will not hold up for many more years even as Weselas continues to expand as he is now. The latrines are exceptionally shoddy and similar to the rest of our schools, learning materials are highly deficient.
Contrasting the students of Ihemba and its remote location, it was apparent the CS Furaha students were far more urbanized. That being said, the level of poverty among them was in no way diminished, and Weselas made a point of mentioning the living conditions for many of his students are extremely poor.