We are located in the town of Bunia, in the north-eastern corner of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a resource-rich yet very poor and corrupt nation which has suffered an extraordinary amount of war and oppression in it’s recent history.
Bunia was at the centre of the conflict between Lendu and Hema tribes as part of the Second Congo War between 1998 and 2003, and to this day it is experiencing the aftermath of that war including poor basic infrastructure, displacement, extreme poverty and the associated problems of disease.
What are we doing in Bunia?
HCLS is providing hope through education, medical and family support for at-risk and parentless children. We have now grown into a significant education, development and relief program that is providing hope to more than 600 at-risk children during the 2023/24 school year.
HCLS started as the vision of a Congolese couple, Dino (Mozart) and Sephora Kile. They were living in Bunia during the Second Congo War, but they were forced to flee the violence and became refugees in Uganda and then Kenya.
From very limited resources they started providing basic support to a small number of homeless, parentless children in Bunia while Mozart completed theological studies in Nairobi, Kenya. While researching and writing his thesis (coincidentally related to the growth in the numbers of parentless children as a result of the Congo Wars) it quickly became apparent that very little effective work was being undertaken, primarily due to a lack of resources.
The very practical vision that grew from his research was shared and developed with a long time childhood friend from Australia, the son of missionaries who had worked closely with Mozart’s parents. As people in Australia started to understand the need, and the potential for an education-based program was realised, resources started to come in, allowing a gradual ramp up in HCLS activities.
In 2006, a generous individual donation allowed the purchase of the first HCLS property on Sitaki Rd in Bunia. While it was somewhat war damaged, we purchased a large compound with a solid house and a partially constructed building which had the potential for the first dedicated HCLS primary school.
By 2007, there were 30 children receiving support to attend local schools, integrated into local families who acted as foster parents, and getting basic medical care.
In 2008, another generous donation allowed plans to be drawn up for the construction of the first school in what would eventually become known as “Complexe Scolaire Hope” (The HOPE School Network). During this year, impatient with the poor quality of local education, teachers were engaged and classes commenced on verandahs, in bedrooms – virtually anywhere that there was space!
2009 was a year of rapid growth, with the completion of the first seven classroom school building (below) giving HCLS capacity for more than 150 children. With so much need, the places were filled quickly and the 2009/2010 school year started with 168 children!
2010 saw the construction of a second building with classrooms for the nursery school and an office for the teachers and staff.
The 2010/11 school year started with over 200 children in the program, and with students graduating from primary school it was time to start secondary classes. The secondary school used the Hope Primary School buildings in the afternoons after the primary students had finished classes, but a dedicated building was required as Sitaki Rd was becoming very crowded. A piece of land was acquired late in the year on the outskirts of Bunia and plans were drawn up.
With generous donations, construction of the first secondary school started in mid 2011, and it was opened for the 2012/2013 school year. The 2011/2012 school year started with over 330 children enrolled in the HCLS program, which then grew to 450 students at the start of the 2013/2014 school year.
The secondary school now provides boarding for 100 of the 150 students enrolled, and vocational training has had a humble start with the construction education program and one of our girls being trained as a tailor.
During 2015 we started the construction of our most ambitious building project to date at the secondary school – a multi-purpose building that will house kitchen, dining room, storerooms on the ground floor, and a library and offices on the upper floor.
With a dedication from the very beginning to providing the very best education possible, it has been gratifying to see HCLS be awarded regular prizes from the local education ministry for the best academic performance in the Bunia area! In every year since the 2012/13 school year, 100% of our final year primary school students passed their government secondary school entrance exams. This compares to an average of around 50% in other schools in the area.
In 2023, HCLS has a continued vision to keep growing and providing more and more opportunities to educate and train at-risk and parentless children, helping them become the leaders and employers of the future in Congo!
Sponsorship is the most effective way to give a child hope!
When you sponsor a child for $50 a month, you join the HCLS community and help us address the many challenges affecting Congolese children’s wellbeing. Your monthly sponsorship will help us continue providing:
Quality education of the highest standard possible
Nutritional needs to help healthy development
Healthcare to fight ever-present tropical diseases
The love and nurturing of caring and dedicated staff