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History of Africare in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
A vast number of children were orphaned, abandoned, and displaced during the last twenty years of conflict and instability in DRC. To meet this need, Africare began working in Kinshasa in 2005 with a grant from the World of Hope Foundation to expand Africare’s HIV/AIDS Service Corps Volunteer Program to the city. The program focused on training volunteers and to promote behavior change and awareness at the community level to improve care health and care for orphans and vulnerable children, specifically street children. Africare focused on technical support to a network of community-based centers and service providers to street children, and established a partnership with the international French NGO Médecins du Monde, who implemented treatment and medical care for project beneficiaries.
In June 2006 Africare conducted a baseline survey of local NGOs working with street children that demonstrated a significant need for capacity building among service providers. Building upon the success of Africare’s initial project in DRC funded by the World of Hope Foundation, additional grants were sought from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Paris Mayor’s Office to continue working in the areas of community mobilization, capacity building of local partners, education and professional training for vulnerable children, as well as family reunification. Africare implemented these activities in collaboration with relevant government agencies including the Kinshasa Urban Affairs Division, the Directorate of Non-Formal Education, and the Directorate of Child Protection Division (all of the Ministry of Social Affairs), as well as the National Adolescent Health Program of the National Health Ministry.
Africare expanded the programmatic focus of its work in DRC in 2008, building upon extensive Title II experience throughout Sub-Saharan Africa to begin a Multi-Year Assistance Program (MYAP) in South Kivu in consortium with the Adventist Development and Relief Association (ADRA). The JENGA JAMAA Project targets returnees repatriated to South Kivu with assistance from UNHCR and is funded through the Office of Food For Development of USAID. Africare works with target communities in Uvira Territory to improve food security by training farmers in improved practices, distributing agricultural inputs, and rehabilitating basic infrastructure through Food For Work. This project aims to consolidate the fragile peace in South Kivu as the context shifts from humanitarian crisis to post-conflict development.
In 2009-2010, projects specifically targeted street girls and street girl mothers, providing them with assistance to rejoin their families and professional training to ensure socio-professional reintegration, as well as raising awareness of children’s rights in six communes of Kinshasa to improve child protection. In South Kivu, the JENGA JAMAA project financed by USAID supported returnees in 32 communities in Uvira Territory to increase farm yields, promote the adoption of disease resistant cassava, and to improve market linkages. Africare's office in the Democratic Republic of the Congo closed in June 2011.