The new Bon Pasteur Center in Kolwezi, DRC

The new Bon Pasteur Center inaugurated in Kolwezi, DR Congo.

A safe and supportive space where children can learn, grow and thrive.

 

In a joyful and emotional ceremony, the new Bon Pasteur Centre was officially inaugurated on September 20th in the presence of representatives of the entire community, local authorities, CSOs, business community and funding partners. The center comprises 14 newly equipped classrooms to instruct roughly 1,000 children hailing from the artisanal cobalt mining community of Kanina – Domain Marial, Kolwezi, DR Congo.

The Centre will host the activities of the Child Protection Project, one of the pillars of the Bon Pasteur Kolwezi community-based development program to eradicate child labor in ASM (Artisanal and Small Mining) communities. Moreover, it will become a learning-and-sharing point for the Kanina community where the message of children's rights will be promoted and spread. Providing the children such a safe and supportive social environment can help them to develop their full potential and thrive.

“We started this program in 2013, with the support of the Good Shepherd International Foundation, to first save and protect the children,” says Sr. Catherine Mutindi, Program Director of Bon Pasteur Kolwezi.  “We started listening to the children, to learn what were their needs and their wishes, their desire to be a child, not a miner. We learned that children have the right to grow in healthy and safe families, to be educated and empowered, to develop in communities that protect and enable them to grow as responsible individuals. It was the children who guided us, and now the program has grown to involve the families and the entire community. The new Bon Pasteur Centre inaugurated last week provides a safe and constructive environment where more children will grow in joy and health together with their families, to lead us all towards a better future."

The Centre will also facilitate and strengthen parents’ and the community’s capacity to better protect and care for the children, in an integrated approach to social protection that provides families with education on children's rights, training on positive parenting and prevention of domestic violence and other abuses against children.

In a speech delivered during the inauguration event, Cristina Duranti, Director of the Good Shepherd International Foundation, highlighted the importance of the new Bon Pasteur Center as a pivotal space that will contribute to integrate child protection and empowerment into community development, improving the impact of the program.

“We celebrate a key achievement of Bon Pasteur as a unique, holistic program that among incredible challenges, has been able to create such a space,” Duranti said. “The Bon Pasteur Kolwezi team has developed this program with and for the community. And from a small project, they now provide training for hundreds of girls and women. They also provide innovative agribusiness initiatives engaging hundreds of women in farming and community development projects promoting healthcare, literacy and microfinance. Today we are celebrating not just the inauguration of a roof over the heads of 1,000 pupils, we are celebrating the foundation of a structure where all children know that they are safe and allowed to be children in a community that loves them and wants to see them thrive.”