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In 1998 war came to the city of Bunia. Bunia is located in northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). It is within the Ituri District. Most residents fled the area, relocating in various refugee camps. Two residents of Bunia, Bisoke Balikenga and his wife Furaha fled to Kenya. There, they enrolled in college at Daystar University. All course-work is taught in English. Elsie Scaife became their English teacher as French is the official language in the Congo. Elsie became a trusted friend and mentor as well. Elsie’s husband, Fred, was working with the college administration. Bisoke and Furaha completed their course work in 2004. Bisoke majored in Business Administration with a minor in Peace and Reconciliation. Furaha majored in Accounting with a minor in Community Development. Before leaving Daystar, Bisoke and Furaha shared with Elsie that the Lord had called them to care for orphaned children. Elsie brought Fred into the conversation. After much time in discussion and prayer, it was decided they should return home and simply begin responding to the Lord’s calling.

Bisoke and Furaha were obedient to the Lord. In 2004 they returned to a war-torn country. They had no money. They had no home. Yet, they had a calling from the Lord. Furaha’s father provided room for them in his dwelling. They converted a garage into living quarters and called it “home.”

The eastern regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo had been ravaged by a ten-year war. Estimates vary but the numbers are staggering. Four to five million people lost their lives during the ten-year war. It is the greatest loss of life in a war since World War II! So much pain, so much loss, so much destruction, for many, the end was swift and brutal. They were killed in their homes, they were killed as they tried to defend themselves, and they were killed as they fled. Fleeing to another village simply meant dying away from home. Orphaned children and widows multiplied dramatically in the wake of an incredibly destructive war. Please join us in prayer for peace and reconciliation for the Congolese people.

In 2004, the DRC government was functional but crippled due to a lack of funding. Schools were reopening but a three dollar monthly fee prohibited many children from attending school, especially orphaned children. Bisoke and Furaha shared their desire to care for orphaned children with others. Many people within the community advised against it. The cost would be high, they had no money, the number of orphaned children was staggering; however, their God called them to this place, at this time, for this purpose.

Trusting God for provision, they gathered orphaned children. The children were cleansed, fed, clothed and given basic medical treatment. They found homes for the children. They found people who were willing to take the children in to their homes. One and two quickly grew to ten, twenty, forty, and sixty...

Soon, they needed a school setting for the children. They talked with other community members. They formed a non-profit organization and filed the necessary paperwork with the Congolese government. They received approval and recognition as a tax exempt organization. The Bunia Children’s Hope Center was an officially recognized ministry!

Land was acquired. A school was begun. A Center was established and the ministry flourished. In time, two hundred forty six children found hope for the future.

As the Center grew, more land was acquired, some given by local chiefs, some purchased at reduced rates. Vegetables and crops were planted for food. The children were becoming a part of the community. They were receiving an education, health and dental care and spiritual nourishment. They were being introduced to a Father that loves them beyond comprehension. They began learning about a Savior that died for their sins, a Savior that conquered sin, death and Satan. They began learning about Jesus Christ. Many have accepted Him as their personal Lord and Savior, receiving hope and assurance of their future.

As time progressed, it became apparent that families taking care of the orphaned children were in need of help. Most homes were headed by widows. They had difficulty putting food on the table. They were barely surviving. A micro-loan program was begun. Loans were given to women, allowing them to start their own businesses. Women would use the money to purchase a product wholesale and turn a profit once it was sold retail at local markets.

In the fall of 2008, Bisoke and Furaha, along with staff and community members, gathered up the remaining orphaned children in Bunia. The number of children under the care of BCHC grew to five hundred.

I, Glenn Mork, happened to be in Bunia shortly after this had happened. I was staying at a local hotel. One morning at breakfast, a German businessman joined me. He is in the shipping business and travels extensively in the countries of Kenya, Uganda and DRC. We exchanged small talk and as I explained the work I was involved in, he sat up and said, “Now I know what it is!” He had been in Bunia for a week and knew there was something different about it but wasn’t able to comprehend what it was. Then he exclaimed, “There are no street children!” His excitement grew. He was astounded that this ministry had taken all of the orphaned children off the streets and placed them in individual homes! Indeed, His works are awesome.

In August of 2009, Bisoke and Furaha and other staff members searched the surrounding communities and added one hundred children to the Center. Today, six hundred children are under the care of this ministry. Of the six hundred children, five hundred twenty are orphaned, having lost both parents. The remaining eighty children have lost at least one parent and are abandoned and/or in need of care.
Today the ministry operates a school, a clinic and a farm.
In 2008, steps were taken in the United States to formalize the ministry at this end. A non-profit organization was formed. Its name is Hope Centers for Children of Africa (HCCA). The organization was formed to allow for greater access to grants, foundations and support from the business world.

Hope Centers for Children of Africa is registered in the State of Minnesota and is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a non-profit, 503(c) (3) orgainzation.  All contributions to HCCA are fully tax deductible.

Copyright © 2010 Hope Centers For Children Of Africa
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