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Our success stories

I was born in Kikwit, Bandudu Province, DRC, in 1990. My mother died in childbirth with my twin and me. My older sisters, children themselves, took care of us at first. At age four, an aunt took us away to Kinshasa thinking life would be easier, but it wasn’t. Her children went to school, but not us. Her husband beat us nearly daily and skimped on our food. Hunger pushed me into the streets, and if I came back, I got beaten even harder. I wound up leaving forever, forced to depend on good people’s charity or digging through garbage for food. After a year, I was hit by a car. My left leg was broken. A chauffeur took me back to my aunt’s and brought me food and drink until I could walk again. When I returned to Kinshasa, I faced abuse from other street kids and was gravely injured by a car again, in the same leg. Lying on the sidewalk for days, even in the rain, a priest from Italy listened to my story and cared for me like a doctor. My next benefactor was a person who understood how I wished I could attend school. She paid my fees and arranged for me to sleep and work on the school grounds. A new life began. I woke up before anyone else so that no one would see me asleep. I encouraged some street friends to do the same. The school could not house all of us. This is when Madame Haydee Britton appeared. She worked for the United Nations, and she cared for us as though we were her own. She founded Les Petits Okapis. Thanks to this chain of events, I finished my schooling and even got a university diploma in Electro-Mechanics. My twin who remained with my aunt perished as a result of home violence. In the future I dream of opening an orphanage. When I see homeless kids, I weep inside. I was like them. All the kindnesses I received, I would like to extend to others. There is too much poverty and corruption here. Now with the pandemic, everything has closed down. There is so much suffering, and I do not foresee any help from authorities.

I was born in N’Sélé, Kinshasa Province, DRC, in 1995. At first my family consisted of my parents, myself the eldest, and my little brother. My father was a successful architect, a serious business man. He was kind and generous. He loved helping others. He hated the sight of others suffering. He loved my mother, and together they devoted themselves serenely to our extended family. My dad took good care of us boys. He advised me from a young age to focus on my education and to respect all people. When he died of a short illness and sudden heart attack, all of his promises turned to tears.

As soon as he was buried, relatives descended on us and took everything we owned or had saved. Mom couldn’t pay the rent, so we were evicted. Unable to pay tuition, I was forced to quit school, too. We begged to stay at a church in exchange for working there. Life was difficult. My mother decided to leave on a venture to be part of a fish business. The trip to get there was dangerous, and she told me to wait for her return. It’s been 20 years now. I never heard from her or my little brother again. No relatives ever came to get me, and I don’t know any of them anymore. One kind man, Tatou David, told me about Les Petits Okapis. I joined them for a soccer game and met Madame Haydee. Her help allowed me to finish my elementary, secondary and university schooling. Her help filled a deep gap in my life. LPO is now my real family. Covid-19 has made our country shut down completely. All I need is a job! I want to be a great business man and be able to give hope to children who lack it. Folks who have means in my country think only of themselves.

I was born in the Mangana neighborhood in the Kimbaseke Commune in the province of KINSHASA in 1993. We were three children, I was the second. By now, both my parents have died. When my mother died, my father married another woman who mistreated me, she would hit me and accused me of being a witch. She would not give me enough food to eat. This pushed me to leave my father’s home and become a child of the streets. I was the new arrival and there was no one to protect me. When I arrived in 2000 at the central market, I was six years old and dependent only on myself to eat. I would beg for money from good people, or I would pick up food from the ground or from garbage cans and I would sleep under the tables at the market without a mattress, without a mosquito net or a cover. I would go wash myself every day at the Congo River, as I only had one pair of pants and a polo shirt. I would spend my day at the Congo River to wash my two pieces of clothing and I would wait for them to dry under the sun. Sometimes I would work shining shoes, or I would wash people’s cars and I even became a shoe repair man. One day I met a lady whose name was Ms Yasmina Bouziane. In time she decided to register me at a school and she asked the director of the school if I could start sleeping at the school, because I had no place to sleep. In first grade, Ms. Yasmina was the one who paid my school fees and who took care of everything. At the end of the 2001-2002 school year, she introduced to another lady,Haydee Britton, who would be taking care of me. Ms. Haydee proposed to take me to an orphanage for me to be able to better follow my studies. I was very happy to arrive at the orphanage Monseigneur Mounzirirwa, a center sponsored by the priests of the Catholic Church. Some children did not see value in the education and they returned to the streets, but I and other children we were always patient. Ms. Haydee decided that we would create our own center called Les Petits Okapis. This is where I grew to adulthood, and I credit this to the personnel who advised us to be good to everyone. Les Petits Okapis gave me a good education that I had missed receiving from my own family. Thanks to Les Petits Okapis, I was able to finish my primary, secondary and university studies. Today, I am proud of myself, because when I left my father’s house, I did not know how to read or write, I did not even know how to express myself in French. A big “Thank You” to Ms. Haydee and Ms. Yasmina! Today I can read and write and that is very important to me. I lost my eye after the dissolution of Les Petits Okapis because of a sickness, but I do not know what it was. en though we are in the middle of lockdown because of the world pandemic, I keep my dream of helping children like I was. We need to have leaders who create good projects for the future of the country; in the meantime, we depend on help from outside.

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