Saturday, March 06, 2010

DRC - In the Shadow of a Volcano

13 pieces of missing luggage. By Wednesday our team finally had all its luggage and was buzzing along with master planning the 20 acre site and finalizing the program of each building. The goal was to provide space for their administration needs but also included in our work were two commercial retail/office buildings and a bank building as fund-raising vehicles, an addition to their undersized medical clinic, a library/conference center that also houses a bookstore and finally an expansion of their church to include attached washrooms.

Administration. The offices of the Community of Baptist Churches in Eastern Congo (CEBCE in French) currently reside in the original mission house in Goma by Lake Kivu. A new building (above) for the senior administrators and their support staff who oversee a couple hundred schools, churches and medical centers will be the centerpiece of the re-organized property.

Commercial Retail/Offices and Bank.
These twin buildings (below) and a bank (above) will provide sources of funding for CEBCE as it manages numerous schools, churches, medical clinics and pastoral training throughout eastern Congo. These developments are meant to reduce the reliance of CEBCE on foreign donors and also create work and exposure within the local context.

Expanded Medical Center. This new building (below) is about expanding the capacity of current facilities and providing proper support spaces for the work of the doctors and nurses. Dedicated space for a laboratory, administration offices and pre and post operative patient rooms will greatly enhance the level of care able to be provided and reduce stress on the staff as well as the patients and their families who come to provide additional care.

Library & Conference Center.
This will be a building (below) that will serve the needs of both CEBCE and its neighbours. The ground level library will serve the adjacent Kindergarten to Grade 12 school but will also be open to the public. In addition there will be a public coffee shop and bookstore. On the upper level is a conference center for CEBCE teaching and training but can also be rented out to generate additional funding when not used by CEBCE.

Increased Infrastructure. A site like this cannot be used without providing services like clean water, sanitation and electrical power. So extensive research of the existing infrastructure was conducted including testing water samples and investigating the adequacy of city provided water and power to meet the proposed demand increase.

Sustainable Design. “Sustainability” is a common catchword in development projects. Economic sustainability targets for long term projects in the developing nations are often difficult to manage at the local level. But CEBCE has embraced this challenge by including commercial short and long term rental space in their development model.

As well, space that is often revenue neutral (i.e. conference/meeting rooms) has been taken out of the administration building and given a building of its own to encourage rental from outside sources. This active interface with the public extends to the coffee shop, the public library (that also serves the school) and what will be one of the only retail bookstores in all of Goma.

Optimistic look to the future. It was wonderful to come alongside this group of dedicated, self-sacrificing, humble but also strong and courageous leaders of CEBCE who have a desire to serve and love the people of eastern Congo in the context of both natural and man-made disasters. Intelligent, creative and with a great sense of humour these leaders live out God’s amazing love and grace every day. The story of redemption here in this embattled land stretches from healing of the soul, stretching of the mind and nursing of the wounds to the feeding of the belly. To me, that’s a perfect reflection of Jesus.

Project Photos. A new set of photos has been placed in my Photo Gallery and you have three options to view it. If you want to browse the set, click here. If you wish to see a Slideshow of the photos, click here. If you want to spend a little more time looking and reading the Photo Details, click here. There is also a new video on my side bar to the right for this project trip. Thank you to all those who have given to this work through your financial support, encouragement and prayer: you have made this project a reality.

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