CENEDI, THE CENTER FOR MENTORING CHILDREN IN DIFFICULTIES (CENTRE POUR L’ECADREMENT DES ENFANTS EN DIFFICULTÉS), IS OUR SECOND PARTNER
Community Charity School (CCS) in Goma for orphans and disadvantaged children
The Center for mentoring (encardement) Children in Difficulties, known by its French acrocym, CENEDI asbl, or CENEDI for short, is a non government organization in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) that was officially registered as such in 2006. CENEDI began as a grassroots organization comprised mostly of teachers and those working voluntarily to assist with vulnerable children in the Uvira region of Kivu province of the DRC. This province had seen many years of conflict between militias in the borderlands of Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and Congo. The area was very unstable and suffered a breakdown of almost all social services, especially schools and hospitals. CENEDI initially provided counseling and medical care for children and women in the Uvira area. The impetus for Hands Across the Water’s involvement with CENEDI was contact between Mr. Bahininwa Saidia of CENEDI and Cheryl Ciaranca, a teacher at Community Middle School (CMS) in Plainsboro, NJ via the internet. In 2009, CENEDI began a formal relationship with Hands Across the Water (HAW), which at the time was a club operating in CMS. The intention was to promote understanding and a link between American children in HAW and those in Congo through a pen pal program. The students in HAW were so moved by the plight of their Congolese friends that they expanded the scope of their involvement to include raising funds for CENEDI. With the help of these donations, over a period of 5 years CENEDI registered 36 orphaned or extremely impoverished children, affectionately known as the Starfish, into Pembas Academy, a well respected high school in Uvira. Under the supervision of Mr. Innocent Nunda Wa Nunda, these students were able to complete their education. Cenedi’s support for the Uvira community has not been restricted to education of the Starfish. After graduation, Innocent arranged for many of the Starfish to become certified in the Quaker Peace Program. This began the CENEDI Peace Ambassador program in the Uvira area, where young adults work with children in the villages around the city of Uvira to promote peace. Through a micro- grant an internet café was opened, providing employment for three of the high school graduates. Café Etoiles de Mer has provided internet services, document translation and charging stations for the people of Uvira for over 6 years. Innocent was also able to secure a contract with the UN for three local seamstresses using sewing machines provide by CENEDI to make uniforms for refugee students entering Congo, providing income for these women as well as some operating funds for CENEDI. Uvira, and in particular the area around the villages of Munene and Kaboke is extremely dangerous especially for women. Congo is known as the rape capital of the world and CENEDI has been there to support women who fall victim to rape and violence by providing medical care and counseling services. Many of the acts of violence perpetrated on the women of the villages occurred when they went into the mountainous area to tend to crops they had planted to feed their families. In an effort to curtail these attacks, CENEDI established a communal farm by purchasing two plots of land. The farm is now operated by a group of 100 women and their families and has been very successful in producing food crops and in providing safety for the women who work there. A mill and generator were purchased in 2021 to grind the dried cassava to be made into flour for use by the member families. CENEDI expanded its operation into the Goma area of Congo in 2013 to assist children orphaned by militia warfare, AIDS and other diseases. Under direction of Bahininwa Saidia, CENEDI worked to provide shelter and food to these very vulnerable children, often arranging for them to reside with other Goma families. In 2015, working with Mr. Mulamba Shabani Jacques, an elementary school was opened in Goma to provide an education to the extremely poor and orphaned children. Over the years more than 1000 students have attended Community Charity School. The students graduating from CCS have excelled by national standards with 100% of them have passing the very arduous state testing at the end of form (grade) 6.
Pastor Innocent Nunda wa Nunda, Director of CENEDI - Uvira
Mulamba Schabani Jacques, Principal of Community Charity School - Goma
Bahininwa Saidia Valery, Former Director of CENEDI
Innocent Nunda Wa Nunda
Innocent, a founding member of CENEDI, assumed the role of director in 2013 when the current director relocated to Goma and set up operations there. He is an ordained Quaker minister and has long been dedicated to the women and children in the Uvira area. He, his wife and eight children reside in Uvira using his home as the office for CENEDI. He attended the university and holds a degree in business. Innnocent has been working closely with Maman Monigue from FEBA to provide relief to women in the Uvira area where violence, rape and starvation are the daily story of life and death. He is responsible for arranging for an instructor from the Rwandan Quaker Peace Initiative to travel to Uvira and train Pembas Academy graduates sponsored by CENEDI as professional instructors of peace (Peace Ambassadors).
Shabani Mulamba Jacques
Mulamba has devoted his life to vulnerable children in Goma. He served as a member/employee of the Norvegian Refugee Council charged with seeking peace and reconciliation for the vulnerable children in the Nyiragongo area of Congo. Prior becoming a member of CENEDI and taking on the role of Director Gestionnaire (Principal) of Community Charity School ,in Goma, he was active in several charitable organizations in the Goma area. He currently enrolled in a program in community development, specializing in project management, at the university. A longtime resident of Goma, he is married with 7 children, one of them a recent graduate of CCS.
Bahininwa Saidia Valery
Bahininwa was raised in poverty in Congo and completed his schooling by working the fields in local farms and as a porter carrying luggage for tourists. He was able to complete his education through great personal sacrifice. Because of the hardships he faced, he organized a group in Munene and Kaboke to assist poor and orphaned children. He wanted to insure that vulnerable students were safe and had the opportunity for education and did not suffer the hardships he did as a child. A cofounder of CENEDI asbl, Mr. Saidia is also responsible for securing funding to open and operate Community Charity school. He relocated to Goma to provide assistance to the children living in the streets, handing,the directorship of CENEDI over to a longstanding member of the board, Innocent Nunda Wa Nunda. Bahiniwa fell victim to a poisoning in 2021 and has, sadly, been unable to continue in his role of director of CCS or as an active member of CENEDI.