We spent Friday preparing for the upcoming meeting with the entrepreneurs at the Youth House. I put all the budgets in Excel and created links between the different pages in order to make the computer execute all the calculations. If you change a number on one sheet it will be changed on all the other sheets. If the computer is a friend of yours, it is a good co-worker. Bernt created another examble with a liquidity budget.
After lunch, we visited a orphanage. The staff prefers to call it a youth home as the target group is between 14 and 18 years old. The home got its name after an outstanding woman in the ECC Women´s Movement, Marie Matie, and it was inaugurated last year. It could be realized thanks to a donation from Asklanda Convenant Church, inspired by Febe Karlsson. They contributed $18.000. The Protestant Church in Germany and the Women´s Movement made donations to the home as well. The home admits 30 street children from Matadi and 20 from Boma, and provides a safe environment for them. The staff of twelve includes teachers, paramedics and one administrator. They make sure the children get a proper education. If the children are illiterate on admission, they are taught at the home, and if they can read they go to a regular school in town.
They have several vocational training programs: the children can train to be hotel staff, mechanics, construction workers, bricklayers, electricians, tailors and drivers. To facilitate the young person’s entry into the labor market, the youth home build contacts with companies that can offer them employment. The home sees to that the children are adopted by ordinary families, and they live with this family during their education at the youth home. The staff tells us of how capable many of the children are while we are sitting down in the dining room, each of us with a Coke to drink. They get very good results on their final exams. Imagine the potential in a street child. How important it is to be in the right environment and to get access to knowledge. All of us who have had the fortune to be born in rich countries can help others to get a share of the good things this world has to offer. This is, as a matter of fact, our obligation. Besides, life becomes even more rewarding for the person who gives. It is wonderful to see concrete examples of humanity, such as this youth home.
At the lunch table, we started talking about all the excellent development programmes that have been launched in Congo. Many of them have surely meant a lot and made a difference, as the example above. But there have also been grandiose programmes that looked good on paper where the aid never reached the grass roots. The administrative process with its managers, administrators, coordinators, controllers and offices became so costly that nothing was left for the actual targets of the programmes. The aid was used up before it reached outside the office door. Julienne ended this conversation by saying:”We still ask ourselves what happened to that programme. We didn’t see any results at all.”
As I am writing this blog in the calm morning hours, Bernt lies in his bed on the other side of a row of bookcases, snoring at a moderate sound level. Bernt’s considerate snoring has never bothered me. I wake up because of other incidences. We have a fan that is on all the time to supply us with fresh air, and sometimes it help us to stay alert and efficient. There are small creatures who keep me company when I write. A big beetle takes extensive strolls around my feet. I guess he hasn’t seen such white and bony feet before, his curiousity is very understandable. A lizard is running up and down the wall. Right now, a bird started to sing outside our open window. It is nice with lively morning company. At a distance I can hear thunder roll.