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
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
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.
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