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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.

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Hands Across the Water, in partnership with CENEDI, opened the Community Charity School (named for Community Middle School) on September 7, 2015.  CCS is a tuition-free school for destitute children in the city of Goma. Over 90% of them are orphaned. Each year the sixth grade class successfully graduates every member. At present CCS operates in a rented building, but land has been bought for an eventual school building.

The success of CCS must be credited to the dedication of its Principal, Shabani Mulamba Jacques, and the dedicated instructions staff, who provide a safe nurturing environment in the midst of violence and chaos. The teachers have been willing to work without compensation when funds were not available, and have taken voluntary pay cuts to allow CCS to keep the doors open. They have persevered, despite armed militia groups roaming the area and malaria ravaging the student population, serving students who often show up to school in rags, and feeding them when they have not eaten for days.  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. We honor every one of these wonderful resilient educators and thank them for being the heart of CCS.


CCS from the front (left) and back (below).  The back view shows the restrooms.  CCS built separate restrooms for girls and boys so that girls could continue to attend school during their monthly cycles.

Below and below right, CCS students sit on hand-made benches and desks to study.  

During the recent Ebola virus outbreak near Goma, schools were not allowed to operate unless they could provide running water for children to wash their hands.  CCS staff showed their ingeniuty by rigging up a "sink" fed by water draining out bottom of the large blue tub.  This was enough to allow the school to reopen to students.

CCS students and their teachers outside the school for a group picture.

Left:  the damage left by refugees fleeing the eruption of a local volcano.

Right:  rebuilding after damage from thieves during COVID.

To protect teaching supplies and other valuables from thieves, a common problem in lawless Goma, and refugees, who sheltered in and destroyed an area of the school after a volcanic eruption, a secure entrance that includes the office had to be reconstructed.

One of HAW's most recent donations to CCS was solar panels for the roof.  These produce valuable electricity that can be used to power lights and laptops for the children to learn on.

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