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Congo Peace School

The Congo Peace School will provide trauma-informed, peace-based education, farming & animal husbandry skills to students in eastern Congo.

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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

Action Kivu and our Congolese partner ABFEC are building a one-of-a-kind primary and secondary school in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a region that has been wracked by violence and insecurity for more than 20 years. The Congo Peace School will not only provide impoverished and vulnerable youth with a quality education, but the children will also be trained in the principles of nonviolence based on the teaching of Martin Luther King Jr. By providing the children with a vigorous curriculum and training in Kingian nonviolence, human rights, and social justice, the Congo Peace School seeks to create a generation of well-rounded young adults that will help shape Congo’s future.

But before the children can change Congo they must take care of themselves. With a trauma-informed pedagogy and trained staff, the children will receive the emotional support they need as well as be provided with two nutritious meals every day, a luxury most Congolese children are not afforded as millions of children are severely food insecure.

The Congo Peace School will also help prepare the children for life after graduation. After-school programs will teach the students practical vocational skills in organic farming and animal husbandry, putting into practice the concepts around sustainability and symbiosis that nonviolence teaches with regards to our relationship to the earth.

With construction costs funded by our partners and raised by Action Kivu, the campus will be completed in July 2018, with classes to begin September 2018.

Congo is in crisis - from corruption in government to outsourcing of their rich mineral resources that enable the world to operate, from computer processors to electric cars, Congo's citizens are living in poverty and consistent armed conflict. The Congo Peace School will graduate students with a sense of agency and the practical skills to lead the country to a more prosperous, peaceful future.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

When fully funded and staffed, the Congo Peace School [CPS] will prepare 480 students in 12 grades (primary grade one through secondary grade six) for a lifetime of leadership and community building, giving them the tools and sense of agency to be the change they want to see in Congo, and the world.

In a revolutionary move for the region, the CPS class sizes will be limited to 40 students and employ assistant teachers to provide direct attention to encourage students’ questions, in comparison to most local Congolese classrooms, where 75-80 children squeeze into dilapidated rooms and often miss school due to the rain washing out the mud floors and flooding through the walls and ceilings. Still common in Congo for teachers to use corporeal punishment, the CPS will train its staff that violence is never an option, instead focusing on trauma-informed discipline based around each child’s experience.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

The Congo Peace School is the vision of Amani Matabaro. A former secondary school teacher, Amani's leadership within his work as a community organizer has proven him a world-changer. With his work with both Johns Hopkins and the University of Washington, for which he was trained in Cognitive Processing Therapy for people traumatized by the war and extreme poverty, Amani is uniquely prepared to train the staff and teachers and oversee this revolutionary project. Long before he received his training from the University of Rhode Island's Center for Peace and Nonviolence Studies, Amani was inherently aware that inequality for women and children was a root of many of the problems the people of Congo face. He works tirelessly to amplify the voices of those whom society has said are not worth hearing, to stand up to injustice wherever he finds it. His training in peace and nonviolence only solidified and gave language to his deep compassion and belief that we are all connected.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Pilot: I have started to implement the idea as a whole with a first set of real users.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

Action Kivu is a U.S. based nonprofit that raises funds and awareness to provide the resources for ABFEC’s community-based education and entrepreneurial initiatives that foster equality for women and children in the Democratic Republic of Congo [DRC]. http://www.actionkivu.org/

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

Our partner Amani Matabaro was born and raised in the community he serves. A former teacher, he credits his own education for his compassion and understanding of the need for peace and equality for a better world for us all. After receiving training in Kingian peace and nonviolence, he was ready to launch his vision of the Congo Peace School to expand on the groundbreaking community work he has been doing for 10 years.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

Peace in Congo has been elusive since the 1994 Rwandan genocide triggered a war, based in Congo, fought by armies from several countries and militias that continue to terrorize the peaceful population of Congo's citizens. The instability is augmented by the current political scenario in which the democratically elected president refuses to step down, and orders the police and army to quash peaceful protests with violence. The violence and instability has deeply affected the prosperity of the Congolese people - the rich resources of minerals are smuggled out of the country, or controlled by the powerful and wealthy, and do not benefit those mining them. The government does not invest in infrastructure, and for many there are jobs, and no roads on which to take them to a job if there were one. The changing climate has affected this part of the planet, as erosion and deforestation from lack of education about long-term care for the earth affects the crops.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

Locally, Amani has gathered a volunteer advisory board filled with education specialists working in the region, as well as a UNICEF Quality Education Specialist based in Niger, who returns to Congo every two months and will observe the school each time. Amani is staffing a community liaison at the school, to engage not only the parents and children in the vision of peace and nonviolence as a way of life, but also the greater community. Amani is looking toward a sustainability plan to supply a restaurant in nearby Bukavu with the crops from our teaching farm (part of Action Kivu's monthly support), and thus engage the national and international community in Bukavu with the school's vision. In the U.S., we are partnered with the Dillon Henry Foundation, the family who invested the funds to build the school, alongside generous support from Pour Les Femmes, an apparel company co-founded by Robin Wright, who has long used her platform to amplify the voices of the women and kids of Congo.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

Through our work with vocational / entrepreneurial projects, we have witnessed the drive and excitement the youth in Mumosho have to learn, and to apply those lessons in life. The area has a high population of young children whose parents cannot afford to send them to school, but who are determined to create a better life, and walk long distances for the opportunity of an education.

Geographic Focus

The Congo Peace School is located in Mumosho, DRC - an area of over 80,000 people in eastern Congo.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

36 months. The construction of the Congo Peace School will be completed in July, 2018, and we are opening with four grades (two primary, two secondary) in September, 2018. The plan is to continue to enroll students and open the boarding houses for sustainable income, and by year three, have staffed the entire school for all 12 grades (480 students total, with 40 per classroom).

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No

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Photo of Mo Hyman
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Amani is an exemplar of both head and heart, and I am so eager to see his long-time dream of a Peace School come to fruition.

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