Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Happy Report-card Day!

On Saturday, I attended a joyful ceremony marking the end of the school year for the kids in the Ditekemena program. Three of the youngest kids attended first grade at a local public school. Another two attended secondary school at a nearby Presbyterian-run school. The remaining 17 school-age kids were in a ‘catch-up’ school environment based at the center where they are staying – I’ll call that the Ditekemena school. Most of them had spent a few years out of school while they were just trying to survive in the midst of broken family situations or living on the street. So – all of them were THRILLED about the opportunity to go to school this year, and very eager to learn. I want to walk you through the highlights of the ceremony and hopefully you will feel the reason to celebrate too!

The kids who had attended the catch-up school at the Ditekemena center all wore their school uniforms,and everyone was scrubbed clean and looking their best. The ceremony/service resembled a worship service, with hymns, choirs, prayers, and a short message. A youth choir from a nearby congregation joined in the celebratory atmosphere and the choir of Ditekemena kids of course got the limelight. Pastor Manyayi gave a short message about King David – the humble shepherd who probably didn’t go to school, but God chose him, anointed him, and used him in significant ways. He expressed that only by the grace of God were these kids able to go to school this year and reach this significant day.
Ditekemena Manyayi speaking broad
Pastor Manyayi encourages the kids

Ditekemena choir1
The Ditekemena choir

Then, each of the kids in the Ditekemana school were given an opportunity to do a ‘recitation’. They had memorized a text (in French, the language of education in DRC) about a topic such as their country, their school, or family. It was moving to hear from these young kids who had worked so hard and improved so much this year. Aimé, in her recitation, said that before the start of school this year she was not able to read or write, but that now she can read and write “without fault”. Pastor Manyayi shared with me afterward that she literally could not write her name when she came to the center, despite the fact that she had attended a few years of school.
Ditekemena Aime
Aimé, with her report card.

Then, you have the near-miracle of Eric. Not only could he barely write his name at the beginning of the year, but he was combative with the other kids and often disruptive. They put him in level 2 of the catch-up school (covering 3rd and 4th grades). In the final month of the school year, they were advised to give him a chance at taking the national primary-school completion exam, simply because he is so tall and wouldn’t fit in very well in primary school. So they bumped him up to level 3 and he reviewed for the exam with the other students. Now, you would never guess from his gentle, respectful, loving demeanor about his difficult background on the street.
Ditekemena Ntumba Eric ShambuyiEric (middle) with Jean and Shambuyi

Each of the kids was called up individually to receive their report card. The three little guys who were in first grade came in 8th, 12th, and 18th in their class of 20+ students. Not bad!
Andre, Junior, and Papy, on their way to first grade one morning.
Then, of course, every good party in Congo includes food and music. They had found a small generator for this day, and the kids let loose with the dancing. Then off for a big meal of bidia, greens, and goat meat!

Ditekemena eating bidia
We praise God for His provision for each of these kids this year. Please continue to pray that God would guide and provide for each of them in terms of being placed or reunited with families. And we continue to celebrate the unique and special individuals that God created them to be!


Jimmy Shafe said...

Kristi and Bob, we are so thrilled to see this wonderful work! Please greet the children for us!
Jimmy, Jan, Cobi

Jim B said...

It is wonderful to see the fruits of the ministry there. Many meetings and obstacles but God's hand was clearly in this ministry. Thanks so much for Kristi and Bob and the local team to keep these kids in God's care.