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Three young brothers from Democratic Republic of Congo

From hunger to hope

Three young boys travelled for a month to find a better life… and they did

Photo above: Elie (left) with David (centre) and Faustin

Elie is 11. He and his brothers, David (six) and Faustin (eight), now have food to eat and will restart school. But before a World Vision resilience project, life was hard. Their father abandoned them and a younger brother died of hunger.

They live in Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa. Elie’s mother Rose was forced to leave their home after her husband deserted them, leaving them with nothing. It was a struggle to feed her four children, so Rose took her sons, travelling a long way to join her family in a city.

"We walked and took buses for a month. When we got here I lost my youngest child; he died of hunger," explains Rose.

Elie says, "We were so hungry; my brothers cried a lot and my mother too. But I was strong and I often prayed."

Democratic Republic of Congo family in fields
Rose and her sons

A life-changing invitation

It was on a Saturday morning when Rose was invited, by a member of her host family, to a community meeting of the Munama cooperative.

The Munama Agricultural Cooperative is an agricultural association fully funded by World Vision. It aims to finance the creation of market garden and food crops, to encourage better and more diversified nutrition for families and their children.

In fact, this area has five cooperatives with 120 parents responsible for 626 children, including 89 sponsored children.

"When I participated in the meeting, I told my story,” Rose says, “The suffering I was going through with my children. My name was added to a list, and later I was invited to training. I learned to cultivate with organic fertilisers which are good for health.”

READ MORE: Helping families access food all year

“We eat sometimes three times a day!” - Rose

Here I am today in my field. I cultivate corn, cabbages, eggplants, and other vegetables. My children eat well, we eat sometimes three times a day!"

Elie and his brothers are happy, and they have fun.

"I want to stay here and never go back [home]. We didn't eat well there and my mother was always crying,” remembers Elie.

READ MORE: How World Vision works to end poverty

Family with vegetables in Democratic Republic of Congo
Rose and her sons delighted with their harvest

World Vision’s work

World Vision’s programme has been actively engaged in tackling malnutrition here for years. We fully partner with the community, through cooperatives, to fight against the hunger crisis that strikes this district. By supporting households, we are reaching the most vulnerable children.

A portion of the cooperatives' crops are sold to finance income-generating activities for members, while a second portion is dedicated exclusively to household and community consumption.

When I first came here, I relied on the little food I could get from my family,” says Rose. “At least now we are relieved of hunger. I am glad that World Vision was able to bring food to us here, where we are far away and have no resources.”

Families like Elie's, living in the outlying areas of the city, are most at risk of starvation.

Mother and son farming in Democratic Republic of Congo
Rose and Elie farming

Thanks to adoption of the best agropastoral techniques there has been improvement in crops (tomato, local eggplant, cabbage, Chinese cabbage). Best practices are shared during training, allowing producers to learn from past experience. This shared understanding has led to an increase in the number of community learning sites from 11 sites (five vegetable, six livestock) in 2021 to 13 sites (five vegetable, eight livestock) in 2022.

Now Elie is eager to go back to school with his brothers. They have already joined a reading club.

Thank you for helping my family” – Elie, age 11

Elie is excited, "Mum told me to get ready, soon I will go back to school. I can't wait. At the reading club they teach me to read. Thank you for helping my family, may God bless you forever.”

Reading clubs help children learn to read

"Before, I was afraid in the morning. I didn't know how to read and I didn't want to go to school anymore," says nine-year-old Grace, who also lives in the city. "Since I've been in the Esther Reading Club, I've been reading and understanding words."

Two young girls in Democratic Republic of Congo
Sarah (left) and Grace now enjoy reading

"The departure for school became an unpleasant moment in the house. Grace did not want to go to school, she cried. I did not know why," explains Micheline, Grace's mother.

Surveys reveal that quality of education is low and so World Vision works daily to improve the reading skills of elementary school children with reading clubs. In 2022, 1134 out of 1200 children, including 587 girls, regularly took part in literacy activities in 30 reading clubs.

"I say thank you to the Esther Reading Club and thank you to World Vision," says Grace.

Her friend, ten-year-old Sarah, adds, “Before the arrival of the reading clubs, many students like me did not know how to read letters and words. Today, thanks to the Esther Reading Club, I am learning and I can read properly now. During the reading sessions, I read with my friends and we try to understand together. Now I can read and many of my friends also know how to read letters and words.”

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