"Tresor, do you ever get use to seeing this extreme poverty on your way to the Hope Center in Kisenso," I inquired as we bounced around the back of the large van taking us into the slums. Whatever you’re imagining – it’s worse. Its people and cardboard homes and trash all right on top of each other. Tresor was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He remembers his parents putting he and his two sisters in the attic for two days when the civil war started, to avoid people possibly coming to the home to take them away. Tresor got a ticket out of the DRC to the US and went to bible college in Joplin, MO and then earned his Masters in Organizational Leadership from Evangel Seminary. “You don’t have to go back to the Congo,” he remembers an American friend telling him. “You can help from America.” Tresor will grow silent when he recounts knowing God’s call to return. After initially returning he chose here, Kisenso, to live to get everything started. It's the poorest of the poor. During the civil war people flooded out of the country sides to the capital, Kinshasa. After the war they lost their land and could not return home. The infrastructure of the city is designed for 500,000 people. People. It’s a very underestimated word here. As we make our way into the slums, I learn there is an estimated 2,000,000 people in the Kisenso slum alone. There are large trash mounds that pile into the streets. Parents travel to all parts of Kinshasa to sell anything they can sell. Most live on 10 cents a day. Many families feed the girls on one day and the boys the next.
When Tresor first began studying how to make the greatest impact he came to the area, asked people questions, and listened. He couldn’t understand why the parents wouldn’t bring their kids to the orphanage they were trying to start. As he listened he learned it was because the families were getting up at 2:30-4a in the morning and sending all members in different directions just to try and collect enough water for the day to survive. Surviving is what people do for a living. That’s when his team decided to drill a well – the story alone is a miracle to tell another day… They essentially drug a large oil tanker through sloppy wet streets in the rainy season to sink a well 130 meters deep. Due to the tight streets and lack of water to run the well they stretched a 3 day dig into 4 weeks. They ran into what everyone does here – fewer resources than required. Their team learned that the greatest service to the community began with providing water. It literally bought family’s time. Otherwise, they’d spend all day looking for it. In the picture above you’ll see a wall with several pipes sticking out of it. The Hope Center fills two 5000L tanks four times a day. That’s right – 40,000L of water that families wait up to 2 hours a day to get. By serving the community with water they created the basis for every Hope Center – a well. Water. They're appropriately named. Imagine getting up everyday knowing that you needed to put some empty buckets in your children's hands to send them on a search for water. What would that feel like? Now imagine waking up knowing exactly where 40,000L of freshwater were going to be piped out for you to capture. That's why they named it - Hope Center! Now parents can use that time on search for other needs. I'll share what Mwangaza International is doing for those tomorrow.
“… do you ever get used to it, Tresor?” I asked. His answer…
“How can you? It just reminds you of all the work there is to do.”