Hands Across the Water refers to the Congolese children we support as our "starfish". Please meet one of our favorite starfish, Fredrika.

Fredrika (name changed) is an orphan who has consistently demonstrated her incredible ability to rise above her circumstances. When we met her in 2010, she had no one in her world who could afford the $10 monthly fee for high school and was being forced to terminate her education. It would cost $20 per month to attend a school appropriate to a student with her drive and ability.

Fredrika spoke and wrote some English, a rare skill in a Congolese child. With her mother dead and her father a hopeless alcoholic, at the tender age of 11, she was already functioning as caregiver to two younger siblings. She would get them dressed and off to school before leaving with them to walk two miles to school. With a dream of attending high school, she was attempting to earn the tuition for school by working the fields of a local farmer, but quickly learned there were not enough hours in a day. We made a difference to Fredrika by covering all of the educational expenses for her five years of high school.

We are so proud of Fredrika as she has now graduated from Pembas Academy in Congo and speaks and writes five languages. Trained in business and computer technology, she has found employment and helps support her siblings who remain under her care.

Community Charity School


In 2013, the nation of Rwanda decided to flush out militia groups from the city of Goma by launching bombs across the river into the Congolese city of Goma. Hundreds of innocent Congolese were killed, expanding the ranks of Goma’s orphans. The elementary school in Goma was severely damaged and did not reopen. War is routine in this region, and survivors have returned to the city to bury the dead and rebuild their lives.

Hands Across the Water, in partnership with CENEDI, opened the Community Charity School (named for Community Middle School) on September 7, 2015.  The school is operating with well over half of the population on “scholarship status”, and we are committed to raising the funds for this wonderful venture to be successful and for these children to know that they are supported.

In a country where education is considered a luxury, CCS students attend regardless of means to pay.  The dedicated teachers struggle with very few supplies but with a solid belief that education can positively affect the lives of these children. CENEDI has no external financial support other than that which comes from generous contributions through Hands Across the Water.