All posts by Heidi Bentley

WYLD Youth Social Actions in May 2024: A Commitment to the Community

In May 2024, young people from The Congo Tree’s WYLD programme carried out two significant social actions, demonstrating their commitment to community service and their desire to provide concrete solutions to local challenges.

The first social action involved training 20 women displaced by war in the east of the DRC, living in the RUSAYO 1 camp for displaced persons, in menstrual hygiene and how to make reusable sanitary towels. This initiative is of vital importance, especially given the precarious security situation in the DRC and the ongoing health crisis. The limited access to hygiene products and the difficult living conditions in IDP camps make this training essential to improving the health and well-being of displaced women, by offering them sustainable and accessible solutions.

The second social action was marked by a visit to the NanaBim Family orphanage, where the young people spent time with orphaned children. The day was dedicated to putting smiles back on the faces of these children and showing them that they have not been forgotten. By sharing moments of joy and comfort, the young people in the WYLD programme wanted to express their solidarity and support, underlining the importance of love and care for these vulnerable young souls.

These social actions are an integral part of the activities organised by the young people in the WYLD programme, who are constantly seeking to find solutions to the challenges faced by their community. By becoming actively involved, they set an example of conscious and dedicated leadership, ready to make a positive difference to the lives of others.

The commitment of these young leaders shows that, despite the challenges, it is possible to make significant changes and build a better future for everyone. The Congo Tree is proud to support these initiatives and to promote a spirit of service and solidarity among young people.

Les Actions Sociales des Jeunes du Programme WYLD en Mai 2024 : Un Engagement pour la Communaute

En ce mois de mai 2024, les jeunes du programme WYLD de The Congo Tree ont mené deux actions sociales significatives, démontrant leur engagement envers le service communautaire et leur volonté d’apporter des solutions concrètes aux défis locaux.

La première action sociale a consisté à former 20 femmes déplacées de guerre de l’est de la RDC, résidant dans le camp des déplacés de RUSAYO 1, sur l’hygiène menstruelle et la fabrication des bandes hygiéniques. Cette initiative est d’une importance capitale, surtout dans le contexte de la situation sécuritaire précaire de la RDC et de la crise sanitaire persistante. L’accès limité aux produits hygiéniques et les conditions de vie difficiles dans les camps de déplacés rendent cette formation essentielle pour améliorer la santé et le bien-être des femmes déplacées, en leur offrant des solutions durables et accessibles.

La deuxième action sociale a été marquée par une visite à l’orphelinat NanaBim Family, où les jeunes ont passé du temps avec les enfants orphelins. Cette journée a été dédiée à redonner le sourire à ces enfants et à leur montrer qu’ils ne sont pas oubliés. En partageant des moments de joie et de réconfort, les jeunes du programme WYLD ont voulu exprimer leur solidarité et leur soutien, soulignant l’importance de l’amour et de l’attention pour ces jeunes âmes vulnérables.

Ces actions sociales font partie intégrante des activités organisées par les jeunes du programme WYLD, qui cherchent constamment à apporter des solutions aux défis rencontrés par leur communauté. En s’impliquant activement, ils montrent l’exemple d’un leadership conscient et dévoué, prêt à faire une différence positive dans la vie des autres.

L’engagement de ces jeunes leaders démontre que, malgré les défis, il est possible d’apporter des changements significatifs et de construire un avenir meilleur pour tous. The Congo Tree est fier de soutenir ces initiatives et de promouvoir un esprit de service et de solidarité parmi les jeunes.

Binet Paul

The “10th Sarment” Promotion: A WYLD Success Story

After a year of commitment and dedication, the “10th Sarment” cohort of the WYLD programme has completed its course, marking a significant milestone in the development of youth leadership in the community.

Comprising 23 dynamic young people, including 10 girls and 13 boys, this cohort has brilliantly completed its leadership training and social action support programme. With an impressive success rate of 96%, underlining the commitment and determination of these young leaders to make a difference.

At the heart of the WYLD programme is the objective of encouraging young people to initiate social actions and/or projects, and this “10th Sarment” class has also done so by supporting underprivileged women, through concrete initiatives such as granting subsidies for their financial empowerment. Thanks to these initiatives, many women have been able to strengthen their entrepreneurial skills and gain access to new economic opportunities.

“As an implementing member of this project, I was deeply touched by the team’s dedication; the complementary nature of the group really inspired me! However, I was no less pleased to see myself acting for the benefit of a person who was neither a member of my family nor my group of friends; just a human being. Although I don’t claim to be able to solve every problem in our path, I was greatly encouraged to carry out other actions when I saw the vendors so grateful for the helping hand they had received”, explains Béni LINJANJA, a young implementer of the “LISUNGI” social action.

Many of the young people graduating this year have already distinguished themselves by taking on responsibilities in various community initiatives. Their active involvement and emerging leadership are tangible proof of the positive impact of the WYLD programme on the lives of young people and the community they serve.

As they conclude this year of intensive training, the “10th Sarment” class leaves behind a lasting legacy of leadership, community involvement and empowerment. These young leaders are ready to continue to inspire and transform their environment, paving the way for a better future for all.

La Promotion “10ème Sarment” : Une Success Story du Programme WYLD

Après une année d’engagement et de dévouement, la promotion “10ème Sarment” du programme WYLD a fini son parcours, marquant ainsi une étape significative dans le développement du leadership des jeunes dans la communauté.

Composée de 23 jeunes dynamiques, dont 10 filles et 13 garçons, cette cohorte a brillamment réussi son parcours de formation en leadership et d’accompagnement des actions sociales. Avec un taux de réussite impressionnant de 96%, soulignant l’engagement et la détermination de ces jeunes leaders à faire une différence.

Au cœur du programme WYLD se trouve l’objectif de pousser les jeunes à initier des actions sociales et/ou des projets, cette promotion « 10ème Sarment en a aussi fait en appuyant les femmes démunies, à travers des initiatives concrètes telles que l’octroi de subventions pour leur autonomisation financière. Grâce à ces actions, de nombreuses femmes a pu renforcer leurs compétences entrepreneuriales et accéder à de nouvelles opportunités économiques.

« En tant que membres exécutant de cette action, j’ai été profondément touché par le dévouement de l’équipe ; la complémentarité dans le groupe m’a beaucoup inspiré ! Je n’ai cependant pas été moins heureux de me voir agir pour le bénéfice d’une personne qui n’ai ni de ma famille, ni de mon entourage ; juste un être humain. N’ayant toutefois pas la prétention de résoudre tous les problèmes sur notre passage, j’étais énormément encouragé à mener d’autres actions en voyant les femmes marchandes aussi reconnaissantes pour le coup de pouces dont elles avaient bénéficiaire. » explique Béni LINJANJA, jeune exécutant de l’action sociale « LISUNGI ».

Parmi les jeunes gradués de cette promotion, de nombreux jeunes se sont déjà distingués en prenant des responsabilités dans diverses initiatives communautaires. Leur implication active et leur leadership émergeant sont la preuve tangible de l’impact positif du programme WYLD sur la vie des jeunes et de la communauté qu’ils servent.

En concluant cette année de formation intensive, la promotion “10ème Sarment” laisse derrière elle un héritage durable de leadership, d’engagement communautaire et d’autonomisation. Ces jeunes leaders sont prêts à continuer à inspirer et à transformer leur environnement, ouvrant ainsi la voie à un avenir meilleur pour tous.

Binet Paul

March 24 Update

The Congo Tree: A decade of extraordinary impact in Goma and beyond

In the space of a decade, the organisation has made remarkable achievements in youth empowerment and community development through its innovative programmes.

One of the pillars of The Congo Tree’s work is youth training. The WYLD (World Youth Leadership for Development) programme has enabled 496 young people in Goma to acquire skills in leadership and personal development. This programme has also reached 380 pupils in Masisi, 70 in Rutshuru, 98 in Masisi in its classic version (for teenagers and adults), 20 young people in Sake in collaboration with Uhuru Knowledge Center, 30 young people in Goma in partnership with Heal Africa, and 310 young people as part of the special Tree Of Life programme set up in 2021 and 2022 following the volcanic eruption in Goma.

Supporting entrepreneurship and professional integration

The Congo Tree is also committed to supporting entrepreneurship and the professional integration of young people. The Mwanzo Entreprise programme has indirectly benefited nearly 75 young people and helped 5 companies to develop their projects. In addition, 30 trainees have benefited from support to help them integrate into the professional world.

A network of over 70 facilitators

The success of The Congo Tree is based on the unwavering commitment of more than 70 facilitators who run the various training courses and workshops. These facilitators play a crucial role in passing on knowledge and developing the skills of young people.

Figures that speak for themselves

In 10 years, The Congo Tree has trained more than 1,500 young people and has had a positive impact on the lives of more than 10,000 people in the community. The organisation continues to expand its programmes to amplify its impact and contribute to a better future for Congolese youth.

An inspirational model for the community

The Congo Tree’s commitment to education, entrepreneurship and community development makes it an inspirational model for the community of Goma and beyond. The organisation has established itself as a key player in the fight against poverty and the promotion of sustainable and inclusive development.

Looking to the future

As The Congo Tree enters its second decade, the organisation is resolutely looking to the future. The ambition is to continue to expand its programmes and reach even more young people. The aim is to help build a fairer, more prosperous and more inclusive Congolese society.

VERSION FRANÇAISE

The Congo Tree : Une décennie d’impact extraordinaire à Goma et au-delà

En une décennie, l’organisation a accompli des réalisations remarquables dans l’autonomisation des jeunes et le développement communautaire à travers ses programmes novateurs.

L’un des piliers de l’action de The Congo Tree réside dans la formation des jeunes. Le programme WYLD (World Youth Leadership for Development) a permis à 496 jeunes à Goma de se forger des compétences en leadership et développement personnel. Ce programme a également touché 380 élèves à Masisi, 70 à Rutshuru, 98 à Masisi dans sa version classique (pour adolescents et adultes), 20 jeunes à Sake en collaboration avec Uhuru Knowledge Center, 30 jeunes à Goma en partenariat avec Heal Africa, et 310 jeunes dans le cadre du programme spécial Tree Of Life mis en place en 2021 et 2022 suite à l’éruption volcanique de Goma.

Soutenir l’entrepreneuriat et l’insertion professionnelle

The Congo Tree s’investit également dans le soutien à l’entrepreneuriat et à l’insertion professionnelle des jeunes. Le programme MWANZO Entreprise a eu près de 75 jeunes comme bénéficiaires indirectes et 5 entreprises dans le développement de leurs projets. De plus, 30 stagiaires ont bénéficié d’un accompagnement pour leur intégration dans le monde professionnel.

Un réseau de plus de 70 facilitateurs

Le succès de The Congo Tree repose sur l’engagement indéfectible de plus de 70 facilitateurs qui animent les différentes formations et ateliers. Ces facilitateurs jouent un rôle crucial dans la transmission des connaissances et le développement des compétences des jeunes.

Des chiffres qui parlent d’eux-mêmes

En 10 ans, The Congo Tree a formé plus de 1 500 jeunes et a eu un impact positif sur la vie de plus de 10 000 personnes dans la communauté. L’organisation continue d’étendre ses programmes pour amplifier son impact et contribuer à un avenir meilleur pour la jeunesse congolaise.

Un modèle d’inspiration pour la communauté

L’engagement de The Congo Tree en faveur de l’éducation, de l’entrepreneuriat et du développement communautaire en fait un modèle d’inspiration pour la communauté de Goma et au-delà. L’organisation s’est imposée comme un acteur incontournable dans la lutte contre la pauvreté et la promotion d’un développement durable et inclusif.

Un regard vers l’avenir

Alors que The Congo Tree débute sa deuxième décennie, l’organisation est résolument tournée vers l’avenir. L’ambition est de poursuivre l’expansion de ses programmes et d’atteindre un nombre encore plus grand de jeunes. L’objectif est de contribuer à la construction d’une société congolaise plus juste, plus prospère et plus inclusive.

10 years of impact

Ten years of inspiration and transformation: The Congo Tree nurtures leadership in Congolese youth

For the past decade, we have been passionately committed to carving out a promising future for Congolese youth. Based mainly in Goma, but also present in the Masisi and Rutshuru regions, we have established ourselves as a catalyst for change, offering training in personal development, leadership and entrepreneurship to more than 1,300 young people.

At the heart of The Congo Tree’s impact is an innovative mentoring programme, pairing experienced mentors with enthusiastic young people. This approach has proven its effectiveness, encouraging a mutual exchange of knowledge and experience that transcends generational barriers.

The results are tangible, with these young people becoming undeniable agents of change within their communities. Their personal and professional transformation is evident, and their ability to create a positive impact is spreading like a ripple through the regions where The Congo Tree operates, as well as around the world.

Our success lies in our ongoing commitment to Congolese youth, with an approach focused on empowerment and capacity building. The success stories that emerge from these programmes are inspiring, illustrating how investment in young people can catalyse lasting change.

As we celebrate a decade of positive impact, the vision persists: to inspire, support and equip Congolese youth for a bright future. By providing tools and opportunities, we are actively helping to shape leaders and entrepreneurs who, in turn, will continue to build a better Congo.

Alumni Story: Willy-Marie

EN: I am Willy-Marie, student of Applied Technologies in Civil Engineering at the Université Libre des Pays des Grands Lacs Goma. I am a Young Leader and Entrepreneur in the city of Goma.

I was born into a family of 7 children and it was a big shock when my parents then divorced, and this has been a challenge in my daily life. My country is poor with so many problems because of armed conflict, which affected my growth, my personal development and competency. I was that girl who was always very shy and withdrawn, because of the situation in our family and country.

I learned about The Congo Tree through a friend, who motivated me to apply because she believed that it would have a great impact on my life, especially on my personal development.

I needed the confidence to assert myself in society and expand my network, and thanks to the WYLD programme, I am getting there little-by-little. The sessions that helped me the most were those of Decision Making, Self-Awareness and Communication, and by putting into practice what I learned in these, I firmly believe I will achieve my goals.

Today I volunteer at a television channel. I try to raise awareness among people and the community about communicating well (healthy communication). This is something that I would never have done before because I doubted my abilities but, after my training, I didn’t hesitate to take the step forward and take action and I owe all that to The Congo Tree.

Thanks to The Congo Tree, I am also now working as an Interior Decorator for houses in the city of Goma. Embracing the value of Creativity, I found new inspiration and decided to showcase my artistic side. Today, I am part of a business with five other young people; we are earning money and all paying our university fees ourselves.

The Congo Tree is a great school for life. I learned a lot and it really shaped me, particularly helping me to discover my place and my role in the community. I think that this programme would be beneficial for all Congolese youth because it would really create solutions for the Congo.

FR: Je suis Willy-Marie, étudiante en Technologies appliquées filière génie civil à l’Université Libre des Pays des Grands lacs Goma. Je suis un Jeune Leader et Entrepreneur en ville de Goma.

Naitre dans une famille de 7 enfants avec mes parents divorcés, cela a été un grand choc et défis dans ma vie de chaque jour. Mon pays étant pauvre avec plusieurs problèmes liées aux conflits armée a affecté ma croissance et développement personnel du point de vu compétence. J’ai été cette fille qui a toujours été très timide et renferme sur elle-même à cause de la situation dans notre famille.

J’ai connu The Congo Tree par l’intermédiaire d’un ami qui m’a motivé a postulé car elle l’avait trouvé que cela aura un grand impact dans ma vie et surtout sur mon développement personnel.

J’avais besoin de m’affirmer dans la société et élargir mon réseau et, grâce au programme WYLD, je suis en train d’y arriver petit à petit. Les sessions qui m’ont beaucoup plus aidé sont celles de la Prise de décision, la confiance en soi et la communication, avec les trois je crois fermement atteindre mes objectifs.

Aujourd’hui je fais le bénévolat sur une chaine de télévision, j’essaye de sensibiliser les gens et la communauté à bien communiquer (communication saine), chose que je ne pouvais pas  faire avant car je doutais de mes capacités mais après ma formation je n’ai pas hésité à prendre le devant et me mettre à l’action et tout ça je le dois à The Congo Tree.

Grace à The Congo Tree, Je suis aussi en train d’entreprendre dans la décoration interne des maisons en ville de Goma. Avec la valeur de Créativité, J’ai trouvé mon inspiration et ainsi je me suis décider de ressortir mon cote artistique. Aujourd’hui avec Cinq autres jeunes, nous sommes en train de gagner de l’argents est ainsi payer nos frais académiques au niveau de l’Université.

The Congo Tree est une grande école pour toute une vie, J’ai beaucoup appris et cela m’a beaucoup façonne surtout m’a fait découvrir ma place et mon rôle dans la communauté. Je pense que ce programme devrait  être bénéfique pour toute la jeunesse congolaise car cela créerait réellement des faiseurs des solutions au Congo.

10-for-10

This year, we are celebrating 10 years of The Congo Tree in action; 10 years of inspiring, equipping and supporting over 1000 young leaders in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

To ensure we have another 10 years ahead of us, we are starting the celebrations of our anniversary with 10 weeks of fundraising, with the ultimate aim of raising £10,000 (or more) and we really need your help!

Starting on 21st April 2023, the day after our official 10-year anniversary, we will be hosting 10 fundraising events in 10 weeks, finishing on Congolese Independence Day, 30th June 2023. With events here in the UK and in DR Congo, we are hoping there will be plenty to choose from when you’re thinking about how to get involved! 

You can find all the information for the 10-for-10 events and also donate via: The Congo Tree: 10 for 10 (enthuse.com)

If you have any questions or want to get involved in any way, please email Harmony on hello@thecongotree.org.uk

Events:

Documents:

General Fundraising Pack

10km Challenge Fundraising Pack – coming soon

Congolese Themed Dinner Fundraising Pack – coming soon

Sponsorship Form

Annual Report 2021-2022

Happy New Year! We’re starting as we mean to go on – reflecting, learning and celebrating the impact we had from April 2021 to March 2022. In a year where we were challenged by insecurity and volcanic eruptions, we raised more money than ever before, launched 5 new programmes, and reached a record number of people through our activities, mentoring and social action. 

We hope that you enjoy reading it as much as we have enjoyed being part of it. And, of course, we love to hear from you – please do contact us if you have any questions or comments: hello@thecongotree.org.uk

ENGLISH: ANNUAL REPORT 2021-2022 ENGLISH

FRENCH: RAPPORT ANNUEL 2021-2022 FR

Young leaders supporting the community amidst insecurity – Rutshuru

Alicia*, a graduate of the WYLD programme, will never forget the day that her home community was attached by members of the M23 armed group.

“When the M23 arrived in my village, the sound of bullets crackled everywhere,’ she remembers. ‘I just took my two children in my arms and told myself that we have to leave because two bombs had just fallen on the neighbour’s house. As we crossed the fields, bullets kept coming towards us. I had one child on my back and the other by the hand.’

This is the daily reality for thousands of people Rutshuru Territory, a area close to the city of Goma in the eastern region of the DR Congo. Since May 2022, M23 have waged an increasingly violent campaign in Rutshuru Territory, attacking villages and seizing control of large swaths of land. More than half a million people have been displaced by the fighting (UNICEF, 2023). Many, like Alicia, fled to neighbouring communities. Others sought safety in Goma, or in camps for people who have been forced to flee their homes as a result of the violence.

We’ve been supporting young people in Rutshuru Territory since 2017, providing leadership training to young people whose entire lives have been shaped by the decades-long conflict that has been waged in this part of DR Congo. Our aim is to inspire, support, and equip young people to become leaders and changemakers in their own communities – and in doing so, help set down the roots for lasting peace.

In spite of the ongoing escalation of violence in this territory, our commitment to young people in Rutshuru remains unchanged. The security situation is extremely challenging, but we have tried as much as possible to continue our leadership training programme. We’ve helped our young people organise celebrations for the International Day of Peace, emphasizing the need to see beyond ethnic, religious, or political differences. We continue to provide support to graduates of the WYLD programme who have bright ideas for small business that can help provide for their families and communities – people like Javan and Baltazare, who are now able to provide gainful employment to other people.

Since the escalation of fighting, many Rutshuru-based graduates of WYLD have gotten in touch to let us know what life is like for them now – and many have also voiced their hope to go home and continue building a peaceful future for their communities.

Displaced persons camp outside of Rutshuru – picture taken by The Congo Tree team, November 2023

Samuel*, a graduate of the WYLD programme, and his family fled from their home in October 2022, as M23 fighters advanced on their village.

“My role as a young person and especially as a leader is to give hope to my whole family,’ he says. ‘Today we live in a school, like people who are homeless, and there is no assistance. But my preoccupation is to return to my village and be very helpful for its development.”

In Goma, members of current WYLD cohort have been volunteering in the camps for displaced people, a simple but powerful way to let those who have been forced from their homes know that they have not been forgotten. We also organise daily distributions of meals to young people with children in the camps.

Unfortunately, the escalation of hostilities by M23 does not appear to be abating. While the group entered into a ceasefire agreement with the national government in Congo in November last year, they have since been accused of breaking the ceasefire on multiple occasions. Despite these challenges, we remain committed to supporting young people in Rutshuru – and in so doing, help them build lasting peace in the communities they call home.

*Names changed to protect our young people

Annual Report 2020-2021

We’re rounding off 2021 by sharing our latest Annual Report with you, covering our activities from April 2020 to March 2021. It has been a challenging year for all of us and in so many ways but, in the words of our Director, our report “is not about the influence of a virus, but about the infectious, empowered, world-changing passion of young people for their family, friends and communities.”

As you read, we hope that something in it inspires you to keep being a part of the story. And, of course, we love to hear from you – please do contact us if you have any questions or comments: hello@thecongotree.org.uk

ENGLISH: Annual Report EN

FRENCH: coming soon…