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Colette lost her father at a very young age. Her mother, determined that her children would be educated, continued to pay the fees tuition charges at La Providence elementary school. But Colette’s mother died when she was in 2nd grade. She and her younger brother and sisters went to live with her paternal aunt, who is a widow. Her aunt did not have means to pay for schooling for the children but was told by a neighbor about a wonderful school that did not charge tuition or fees for orphaned and extremely destitute children. Colette was enrolled in CCS in 2017 and completed 6th grade in 2021. Her teachers at CCS said she was a hard working, caring student who always tried her best and respectfully cooperated with classmates  and teachers. From a young age Colette was a leader. Her elementary years certainly tested her resilience.


In August of 2021 Colette received an exceptionally high score on her state testing, which is required for graduation This was a testament not only to her hard work and ability, but also to the excellence of the instruction at CCS.  But sadly, there was no way Colette could not have continued with her education - she could not afford secondary school.  This bright young woman was looking at entering the workforce at the tender age of 12.  Fortunately, HAW intervened and provided the funds for Colette to continue her schooling.  On Oct 5, 2021, Colette joined the ranks of entering 7th graders at Musamaria Mwemba high school in Goma with all fees covered by HAW!


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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 so she 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.

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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 their school before leaving to walk two miles to her school. With a dream of attending high school, she was attempting to earn the tuition by working the fields of a local farmer, but quickly realized 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.


Since 2007 CENEDI has been partners with the American school club Hands Across the Water (HAW).  This partnership initially started as a pen pal club between 6th graders at Community Middle School in Plainsboro, NJ and students of the same age from Kaboke, a rural village outside Uvira.  Over time, it expanded to include financial support from the Americans to help cover the school fees for the "starfish" - the African members of HAW.  By 2019, thirty-two young men and women in eastern Congo were able to complete primary through secondary school, a rare achievement for the children of Kaboke Village.


Hands Across the Water began our high school scholarship program for orphaned students in  Kaboke. These were bright and capable students who had no chance of progressing beyond elementary school without our help. Sadly at first we could only accept 5 students into our program, promising that we would pay all of their educational expenses through graduation. The ranks grew as year after year determined young people broke our hearts with their stories of personal loss and pleas for our assistance. Over the years we have covered all educational fees for a total of 26 students and assisted an additional 6 with exam fees and graduation costs.

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Celebration of our high school graduates - October 2018

In September of 2018 we learned that the last 10 of our students completed their requirements for graduation and passed the arduous state exams. In October CENEDI organized a celebration in the Kaboke for all of our graduates from 2014-2018.  Proud relatives provided tearful speeches expressing their gratitude for the support provided by HAW. This spring, our grads will begin a tutorial program for the students attending Kaboke Elementary School.


The picture above was taken on one of the very special days for children, the International Day of the African Child, celebrated on June 16th. Annually, all of the students across the continent of Africa honor those lost in the riots of Soweto in South Africa in 1976. The students peacefully demonstrated against the new law that all teachers in South Africa speak Afrikaans and and that limited exposure to native South African history and culture. In these protests 176 students were killed and over 1000 were injured.

Due to CENEDI, the children of Kaboke Village in Southern Kivu are now able to join in this national holiday. The local celebration, hosted by CENEDI, provides songs and skits performed by school children to demonstrate the importance of attending school.  The attendees and participants are given a hot meal and a beverage — often the only one they will have for days.

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