Children in Crisis is delighted to announce the inauguration of the Bibangwa School, generously funded through a partnership with The Virdee Foundation. Two hours’ walk from the nearest road, the new school is set on the High Plateau in South Kivu, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the school formally opened on 19 August and is already filled with 165 children, eager to learn. Please read the joint Children in Crisis and Virdee Foundation press release here.

full classroom
In their old school, children sometimes had to perch on rocks and there were no desks to rest their books on, which made writing hard. Now they have proper desks and are ready to learn.

The L-shaped school was completed in April but the formal inauguration had to be postponed. Rebel groups moving across the Plateau had made it too dangerous for visitors to travel to the isolated high plateau area for celebrations. Communities living in this area have suffered decades of neglect by the government as well as a conflict involving many rebel groups. 

“We had waited so long for this day. All the children and their parents were there; most of whom had actually helped to build the school. The village choir sang and there was dancing as we opened bright blue doors into light classrooms. I have seen many new schools in my role at Children in Crisis and this is by far the most impressive.”

 

Women from the community carrying foundation rocks on the long walk to the school.
Each bamboo basket represents a different family's contribution of carried rocks, what an amazing effort by the local families.

This school could not have come together without the help of the local community. Because of the isolated location of the area, trucks could not access the building site, and parents carried all the building materials by hand or head over hilly terrain for two hours to reach the school. To see exactly how the school came together, read our previous update: The Virdee School, Raising the Roof

children sitting in front of school
The six classroom school has been built with solid brick walls with deep foundations, a rust resistant metal roof, and cement floors. It has been designed to last.

The partnership between Children in Crisis, The Virdee Foundation, our local Congolese partners, Ebenezer Ministry International (EMI) and the parents of Bibangwa has been the driving force behind the construction of Bibangwa’s new school.  165 children now have a safe place to learn, protected from cold weather and heavy rain.

The involvement of the minority Batwa families in building the school meant that many of their children are enrolled in school for the first time; mixing with children from other tribes and establishing an understanding of one another from an early age. This understanding and respect will play a vital part in promoting peace between the tribes in the future.

dancing students
The students, teachers and parents celebrated the opening of their new school with lots of singing and dancing. If you look carefully you can spot programme manager Thea!

"On hearing of our mission to reach the forgotten and most disadvantaged children in remote and often conflict affected environments, Professor Peter Virdee showed no hesitation in reaching out to us to ask how a partnership with The Virdee Foundation might be able to help us improve the lives of more children."

 

About The Virdee Foundation

Construction of Bibangwa's primary school is generously funded by The Virdee Foundation. If you’d like to learn more about their aims and other work that they have supported, please visit www.thevirdeefoundation.com.