I’m excited to announce that this month marks the fifth anniversary of Kimbilio’s launch. On a dry and dusty day in June 2009, members and friends of the Congo Children Trust (UK) and the Anglican diocese of Katanga came together to open the doors of Kimbilio’s first centre in the Kenya quartier of Lubumbashi in DRC. Since that day, Kimbilio has gone from strength to strength. Our Kenya Day Centre provides food, showers and emotional and psychological support to approximately 30 children every month, with new ones arriving all the time. Where possible, we reintegrate them with their family or guardian at the earliest opportunity, but many of these children return to the centre every week for at least one or two years.
The opening of the Day Centre was quickly followed by the construction of both long-term accommodation in a house outside the city, and a boys’ ‘transit house’ to provide short-term accommodation while children are in the process of returning to their family. These two houses, staffed by committed carers with a focus on providing a family environment and a social work model of support, offer a route off the streets for between 14 and 20 children per year. That may not sound like a lot of children but it’s a core principle of Kimbilio to provide support in a smaller, non-institutionalised setting. And the impact we have on each child is enormous – leaving the street means access to education and healthcare, but it also means a diversion away from crime, violence and hopelessness.
This year has seen a leap forward in Kimbilio’s work with local children. We’ve welcomed volunteers from Belgium, the UK and Holland who have supported education and sports activities. We’ve taken the children on visits to the zoo, and an adventure playground. We’ve held a Christmas market and hosted an event to mark the International Day for Street Children. And to top it all off, in this our anniversary month, we opened a transit house for girls so that some of the most vulnerable and at risk children can find safety away from the street and start the journey back to their family. We are incredibly excited about the new house and our enhanced girls’ programme which will offer them not just safety, food and support, but some of the skills they will need to be self-sufficient as the next generation of Congolese women. Find out more about the work of Kimbilio on our website, blog or like us on facebook.