International Widows and Orphans Fund (iWOF) is a locally formed charity from Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island. The six founding members’ aim is to make a difference in the lives of orphans in DR Congo (one of the world’s poorest and most dangerous countries to live in).
Through the generosity of so many people, the progress over the last 2 years is clearly visible. When iWOF partnered with Grace Orphanage, one of our first goals was to ensure that the children attend school. Education is proven to be a critical step in breaking the cycle of poverty. In September 2013, all 35 children started to attend school, some for the very first time. Through partnering with Global Outreach (a US charity), we were able to enroll the children in their new school, Mango Tree School in September 2014. Mango Tree School has better educated and committed teachers, and overall, a much higher quality of education than their previous school.
As you can see from the picture above, smaller class size is another benefit from the new school (maximum 45 students per class vs 60+ before).
- The first year at the new school had some challenges as the level of education is quite high. We have to provide more support for children with learning difficulty, to prevent them from falling behind. A teacher is available to visit the orphanage for two hours per day, three days a week, at a cost of $50 per month.
- Three years ago, it seemed inconceivable that the children could receive a proper education without any books to read. This has changed with French and English books that were shipped as part of the container that arrived in June this year. We now have to convert the container into a library to house over 1,000 books. This will be the only library in the City of Uvira, with 500,000 people. We want to make these books available to all children in the community.
- Unreliable school bus service resulted in the children arriving late, and some days not getting back to the orphanage until 3:00 p.m.; a long day when breakfast was a slice of bread and tea at 6:30 in the morning. We are working on purchasing a minibus that will resolve this problem, and save the monthly busing cost.