Thursday, July 24, 2008

FACTEB Seminary in Boma, DR Congo

Proposed Library, Women's Education and Resource Centre

Post-War Congo. We saw a great deal of military presence in the DR Congo: from the airport in the capital Kinshasa, the road checks on the highway, to the large military contingency in the city of Boma, our destination in the western region of the country. We were told that it is not uncommon as foreigners to be detained for bribes. Fortunately, we had a major (head chaplain in the military) with us to escort us around for the week.

It turns out the most challenging part of the trip for the team was enduring the 14 hour mini-bus ride to cover 500 km from the capital to Boma. Potholes at every 75 yards for many, many miles made for a hot, slow and bumpy ride that finally ended at 4 am! But we made great conversation and often these are the best "team bonding" moments. (Thankfully we were booked an air flight for the return...that took only 55 minutes!)

Dr. Kenzo's Family

The Seminary. Our host, and rector of the seminary, was Dr. Mabiala Kenzo and his wife Lau. They live in a residence on campus and while the team stayed at a guesthouse in town, much of our days were spent in the Kenzo residence, transforming their living room into our temporary office.

Our task was to transform an aging group of buildings into a cohesive campus, design new campus buildings and infrastructure (water, sanitation, power) as well as student housing. After many meetings with Dr. Kenzo (and he in turn with his faculty) we endeavored to capture their vision for training 300 seminarians per year from their current 55 and we set about creating a phased plan for construction that would bring them to their vision step by step.

Recently painted classroom (r) and computer resource (l) buildings

The Seminarians. It was inspiring to spend most of our time on campus in and amongst the seminarians. Each man or woman studying here has been chosen by their church to become a leader both within their church and out in their community. Sacrifices by the students have gone beyond changes in their livelihood and the monetary costs: student-housing at FACTEB currently does not have running water, consistent electricity or in-house sanitation.

Many of the seminarians are married with children so it really adds to the stress. In fact, there are enough children of seminarians on campus for us to incorporate a grade school into the overall campus master plan. Therefore, the role of the eMi team was not only to add to the academic setting of the seminary with a new library and classrooms (phase one) but also to design housing that will raise these standards of living…and they always had a ready smile and warm greeting for us. Indeed humbling and inspiring....

New Master Plan for FACTEB Seminary

Project Photos. A new set of photos has been uploaded to my Photo Gallery for this project, so click here (Photo Gallery) and see the Boma, DRC set with a slideshow (click the middle of the photo for commentary). If you want to spend a little more time looking and reading, click here in Details (Photo Details). Check it out and see what your support and encouragement and prayer has produced in the work of this team. “Thank you” to all our prayer and financial supporters for making project a reality.