Shepparton House project

Context

War has been ongoing in the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo since 1996. The official aim of the war was to remove the dictator at that time, President Joseph Mobutu. Mobutu was expelled in 1997, but the East of Congo is still suffering from atrocities.

Very often civilians are killed by armed groups. These armed groups are from different nationalities. In these conditions, mineral such as coltan and gold are illegally exploited and exported to foreign countries. It is in this context that many children have lost their parents. This the case for 12 children in the town of Butembo. One brave, compassionate lady, Anne Marie, is looking after them and trying to create a home.

However, at the end of November 2019, the relentless violence that persecutes the Congo struck once again. The Two oldest children, boys aged 15 and 17, went out to search for cassava in fields near Butembo. They never came home. Like their parents before them they were brutally murdered. 

Anne Marie is left inconsolable, but must try to carry on for the sake of the remaining ten children. 

Involvement of Voice for Silent People in Anne Marie’s care of orphans

Voice for Silent People has the main goal to attract people’s attention to what is happening in Congo, but a Catholic nun living in Butembo reached out to Voice for Silent People to help two children who were in their care. The organisation has been assisting Emanuella, four and a half, and eight-year-old Rose, since 2018. Recently help has also been given to a young boy, Grace, who is ten. The support has been used with schooling or medical expenses.

The aim of the Little Presentation Sisters with children who come into their care, is to have them return to family members if they have the ability to care for them. This has happened in the case of Emmanuella who has returned to live with her father, who recently remarried. Emmanuella’s mother was murdered a number of years ago, and he had struggled to care for his family. The nuns will monitor the situation, as sometimes when food is scarce it is the youngest child such as Emmanuella who can miss out and suffer malnutrition.

Rose and Grace, both orphans, have not been able to find any family members who can care for them, and have been living with Anne Marie. In July 2019, Sister Agnes of the Little Presentation Sisters described how Anne Marie and all children are living in a very small house of two bedrooms. Voice for Silent People is aiming to raise sufficient funds to build a new house that is better suited for Anne Marie and the children. 

Location

The house will be located in the town of Butembo in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

 Location

With a population of approximately 670 000 people, Butembo is the second largest town in the Province of North Kivu, in the territory of Lubero. Two territories Lubero and Beni are both victims of killings by the ADF armed groups from Uganda and other neighbour countries. As it can be seen on the map, the two territories are very close to Uganda.

The photograph below provides an aerial view of Butembo.

  townView

Current accommodation for Anne Mary and children- A small house of 2 bedrooms

Anne Marie is looking after the orphan in a small house of two bedrooms that she is renting.  She sleeps with all the girls and all the boys sleep in one bedroom.

currentHouse

Possible solutions

After a conversation about the possibility of help for the accommodation, Sister Agnes did some investigation and came with the following proposal:

Option1: The cheapest way to help this family is a house of three bedrooms     

  • The wall of the house will be made of wood with soil and the roof with sheeting.
  • The house will cost US$2000 (Land US$1500 and construction US$500). This cost is approximatively AU$3000
  • The duration of construction may take 1 to 2 weeks taking into account the possible rain days.

house_option1

Option 2: Option with possibility to change the house in brick house in the future

  • The wall of the house will be made of wood with soil and the roof with sheeting.
  • The columns will have a foundation of stones and bricks. In the future it will be possible to transform the wall in brick without destroying the house.
  • The house will cost $US 4000 (Land US$1500 and construction US$2500). This cost is approximatively AU$6000.
  • The duration of construction may take 3 to 4 weeks taking into account the possible rain days.

House_Option2

Option3: Option to fill in the walls of the Option 2 house with brick  

  • The house in bricks will cost US Dollars 6000 (Land US$1500 and construction US$4500). This cost is approximately AU$9000.
  • The duration of construction may take 8 to 12 weeks taking into account the possible rain days.

Arrangement for building and owning the house

After having a meeting with the Little Presentation Sisters, we came up with the following arrangements:

  • The house will be a property of the Little Presentation Sisters and will be dedicated to any one in need of accommodation when looking after orphans
  • The provincial is happy the congregation to undertake the purchase and the construction as soon as the funds are available.
  • There are two legal documents for the ownership of the house. The first document is the receipt of the land to be provided by the seller of the land. The second document is called Taxe parcelaire, tax on the land. This document is provided by the government.

Conclusion

Voice for Silent People was moved to support Anne Marie and the Little Presentation Sisters by raising funds to build a house through our commitment to support Rose and Grace, and the amazing example we saw in Anne Marie of someone who is making a difference when it would be so easy to turn away. The tragic death of the two oldest children, and at this stage we don’t even know their names, has emphasised the harsh realities that people living in East Congo have to deal with every day. When Voice for Silent People began talking about this project, we were trying to make a difference in thirteen lives. Now, tragically it is eleven………….;

but we can make a difference if we build Shepparton House.