2012-10-29 DEM. REP. OF THE CONGO

Province of East Central Africa

The Champagnat Movement of the Marist Family is a reality in the  Province of Central East Africa. The Marist fraternity of Goma, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, known as JUDEPROFMs (Youth United for the Development and Promotion of the Works of the Marist Brothers), is more and more active among Congolese young people through the different projects it implements. It is easy to understand how a good number of people become interested in this process: not only the young boys and girls who come to us, but also Catholic lay people with family responsibilities, married people certainly, who wish to take advantage of it.

People who have experienced the growth of JUDEPROFMs can testify that it is a fruit of the Mendes sessions, although it was set up before those, for one can say that Mendes gave it its real sense of ‘’Fraternity’’.

Five years later, the situation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is very different, but, when all is said and done, our fraternity has known how to adapt.

Seduced by the compassion Father Champagnat showed towards youth, the JUDEPROFMs fraternity has orientated its field of  apostolate towards deprived youth. And, as the situation of our country has moreover plunged some young people into total despair, in pushing them aside and condemning them, the ideal of our fraternity is to try to restore hope to them.

This is why, since its foundation, our fraternity has been able to define the following objectives, in the sole concern of implementing its apostolate in an adapted manner :

–   participation in the universal vision of the Church for the integral development of the person,
–   contribution to the promotion of human rights,
–   assistance to poor children and vulnerable persons,
–   participation in formation of youth in the schools according to the charism of the Marist Brothers,
–   promotion of actions aimed at the development and promotion of young people in situations of distress,
–   work towards changes in behaviour in view of protecting health and human development.

Seeing these objectives being put into practice, some young people have expressed an « ouf » of relief, while others have asked with concern if they have been taken into account by our different programmes. The modesty of our means has not allowed us to intervene on the grand scale with our beneficiaries, yet that’s no problem, we have remained faithful to our programme of « school support » in favour of vulnerable children, for this year of 2012. This programme involves the delivery of school stationery and the payment of school fees (i.e. at the Institute TUSIMAME in Kalungu, the primary school of MUGUNGA in Goma, the Institute WETEMWAMI of Bishange and the  Collège LWANGA in Minova).

The greatest difficulty we have encountered is connected with the perverse behaviour of the youth. It is necessary to understand the difficult economic situation of some families, following the war, pushing girls and boys into vagabondage and all sorts of adventures, with the aim of gaining the means of survival. This unhealthy situation has not escaped the attention of JUDEPROFMs, which has quickly taken measures to combat « procuring » and the phenomenon of the « pimps ». This goes in hand with its objective of « promotion of human rights », in the « child protection » programme. Thus, beginning this year 2012, the JUDEPROFMs fraternity has initiated a new project entitled « Awareness Programme for the eradication of sexual abuse with regard to underage girls in the city of  MINOVA and its surroundings ».

On the morning of 18 February 2012, the politico-administrative authorities, including the president of civil society, the officers of the local police, the officers of the armed forces, the territorial head of posts and training, the press, the NGOs and associations working for child protection, the Marist Brothers of the Bobandana community, and representatives of the parents, all gathered around the JUDEPROFMs fraternity to hear about this new project, and to learn of the different strategies put in place to achieve it. Commitments were undertaken by the politico-administrative and military authorities to support the lay Marist fraternity JUDEPROFMs in this work.

We think that that this project will have a positive impact on the evolution of behaviour, although it remains to study other alternatives to assure that this category of person can gain lasting self control. It is true that parents, as well as the whole local community, could see this generation racing to its doom, and despair of it, but thanks to the effort, prayers and contribution of each of us, all will be able to cry out together : « Look at this desrt which has become a garden ! »

Ignace NGWASI KAVANGA, JUDEPROFMs’ Projects coordinator.

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