After many months of planning and revising plans, we’ve finally broken ground on building a new school for the deaf in Baraka (DR Congo). The process begins by making mud bricks and drying them in the sun. Then the bricks are stack like an oven, and kept over a smoldering flame for about 5 days. The end result is a durable, low-cost brick, suitable for a construction project that will last 20-30 years. It’s significantly cheaper than concrete, and due to the low cost of labor, is the preferred choice for single-story construction projects in this part of Africa. In the photos on the right, director Shukuru Ramizani’s staff has prepared about 1,800 bricks. They estimate they’ll need about 40,000 to complete the classrooms, administrative offices, staff buildings and perimeter wall. We expect to start construction at our Uvira school in a few weeks.
In Bukavu (DR Congo), we could use your prayers for our efforts with devising a good training program for our new teachers. Things are moving a little slowly these days since Luimbo Nanza, our director, was in a motorcycle accident and injured his leg. His Meshake and Fabien are filling the gap for now, but things will be better when Nanza is back in full swing.
Since Covid-based travel restrictions are still cumbersome in the Congo, Burundi and Rwanda, we’ve decided that holding a Congo Bible Camp in 2021 will not be feasible. Pray for the ~20 deaf churches in the region that will miss another opportunity for Biblical and pastoral training.
Indeed, your prayers are greatly coveted!
Students and teachers from one of our old schools in Goma (DR Congo) had quite the scare last month. A nearby volcano in the Virunga National Park erupted on May 26th, causing 30,000 residents of Goma to flee their homes. At last count, 31 people died in the disaster. A number of our deaf friends in the city also had to leave the city until the lava cooled and the earthquakes ceased. One of them, a young evangelist named Temo, sent me several photos of the volcano and ensuing damage done by the volcano. Pray that their lives will be quickly restored.
We’re happy to report that Director Yves Beosso is nearing completion of the new administration buildings on their property in N’Djamena (Chad). We have about another $500 worth of construction to go and the buildings will be complete. Meanwhile, the 2-story multi-purpose building is moving at a much slower pace, so pray with us that both sets of buildings will be completed soon.
In Nigeria, construction of our new school continues to move forward. Praise God with us that Mission Projects Fellowship has awarded our Nigeria center a $9,800 grant! This is a huge blessing, and I’m excited to see how the project leaps forward.
Indeed, your prayers are greatly coveted!
We’re pleased to report that we have completed the purchase of two parcels of land in the Kivu province of the DR Congo. One is near our Uvira school, and the other is near our Baraka school, and we’re excited to begin construction. Pray that the designs will be satisfactory for our needs, and that funds will be prepared so we can begin construction soon.
In order to address some of the challenges at our school in Bukavu (DR Congo), Pililo Amani, our regional director, was able to have a lengthy meeting with our Bukavu director and missionaries Kathy Lindquist and Renee Lindquist. The main challenges facing our Bukavu school frequently stems from a lack of training. Pray with us that we’ll be able to arrange the training needed so that the school can flourish.
By the grace of God, Covid fatalities are not a major challenge in the DR Congo, and fewer than 100 Congolese have succumbed to the pandemic. The fear of Covid, however, has made a large impact on the country. Schools were the first to close, and students are now foregoing their summer vacation to make up for lost school time. As a result, it’s looking like we won’t be able to have our usual Congo Bible Camp this year. I’m hoping we might be able to have a small training event in Goma (DR Congo), but it remains to be seen how many people will be able to participate. If the numbers are sufficient, we’ll plan to go forward and meet.
Indeed, your prayers are coveted.
We’re excited to see so much progress with the construction of new buildings at our N’Djamena (Chad) school. The sizable gifts we’ve received over the past few months have been depleted, and construction is now slowing down. The rain season will be here soon, and if the work is not completed by then, we’ll have to move at a much slower pace. Pray with us that we’ll be able to continue construction and complete the new multi-purpose building soon.
In Bukavu (DR Congo), we’ve added new staff members for our growing school, but we also need to get them trained ASAP. Their lack of strong sign language skills is a hindrance that needs quick resolution. Pray that we’ll be able to get them trained quickly.
To the northwest of Bukavu, in the city of Kavumu, a school for the deaf has been struggling for several years. It was founded by a group of local parents concerned for their deaf children, and they’ve had a tumultuous time with less-than-honest people vying for leadership. Despite this, the school has grown to over 70 deaf students. They have asked us for financial and academic assistance, but at this time, we’re not able to commit resources to their effort. Fabien, one of our deaf teachers from Bukavu, has been spending a lot of evening hours working to help them stabilize and get competent leadership in place. He’s brought in a former classmate from his high school in Goma, and both men are working there at their own expense. Pray that God will give us wisdom about whether and how we might assist the Kavumu school.
In these uncertain Covid times, we’re exploring an opportunity to go to Goma in July and host a Bible camp. Pray for wisdom about making these arrangements.
January has been a busy month for us in the Congo. We’ve completed the purchase of two parcels of land. One is in the city of Baraka, and the other is in the city of Uvira. After all the legal paperwork is completed, we’ll need to finish the plans for construction and then proceed with building the classrooms. Finalizing the blueprints for construction has proved to be a bit of a challenge in Baraka. We have limited access to construction expertise, and the people willing to do the work are very keen to try and make a tremendous profit off our project. Pray that we can get these buildings underway and completed within the next few months.
We have recently promoted Pililo Amani from director of our Uvira school to regional director for the Eastern Congo. In this position, he will have oversight over our Bukavu and Baraka schools. We are confident that his years of faithfulness in developing the Uvira school will be invaluable as we also try to grow the Bukavu and Baraka schools over the next few years. Pray that his transition into that role will be smooth. Also pray for him as he will travel quite a bit more than he has in the past. The roads in his part of the Congo are not always safe, and the road to Baraka is almost useless. The two-hour boat ride across Lake Tanganyika is almost three times faster than a bus or motorcycle ride on the dysfunctional roads.
In Chad, we’re excited to announce the purchase of a good used truck! Thanks to Mission Project Fellowship, we’ve received a grant for the purchase of a much-needed vehicle. https://missionprojects.org/project/679 Director Yves and his staff have been praying for this for quite some time, so we’re excited and looking forward to what God will do through this special blessing.,
We have some very sad news here at the home office in Texas. John Foster, my 2nd oldest brother, suffered a heart attack on January 19th and is now with the Lord. He worked in the CMD office from 1988 till July 2019 and was a consistent and faithful servant with his various duties, even while his health was in decline the past few years. After many years of bouts with diabetes, pneumonia, bronchitis, high blood pressure, kidney failure, dialysis and Covid, his body succumbed to a heart attack. He had no spouse or children. We will miss him dearly.
Thanks for your prayers.
Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. (Hab 3:17-18)
Despite the tumultuous events of 2020, we know that our Sovereign God is in complete control of the affairs of man. Let us praise Him for all He has brought us through.
Although few cases of Covid were reported in Africa, most African countries implemented a number of shutdowns nonetheless, resulting in price hikes in foods and commodities. Our Nigerian school had it a bit worse than our other schools: because the country has an otherwise strong economy, our Nigerian school gets much of its support from tuition fees. But with the Covid shutdowns, not only were parents not sending their children to school, they were also not paying their tuition fees. As a result, many of our Nigerian teachers had to accept a drastically reduced salary while waiting for the school to reopen. Now that the schools have reopened, the salary situation has improved, but our staff is having to make up for financial losses during these lean months.
On a positive note, our CMD location in Onireke (Ibadan) celebrated their 30th annual Thanksgiving celebration in late November. About 500 people were in attendance, celebrating God’s faithfulness over the decades. Praise God indeed!
The school shutdowns in Chad gave us an excellent opportunity to tear down older dilapidated mud-brick buildings and rebuild them with more durable fired-brick and concrete. Thanks to your generosity, we were able to rebuild all the administrative buildings. The new facilities are lager, and are a welcome expansion for the faculty and staff.
We’re deeply grateful to the AfriDeaf Foundation, a US-based organization founded by Clement Abonyi, a deaf graduate from our Nigerian school. With his support, they’ve undertaken the daunting task of rebuilding our largest building on the property. The one-story building will be replaced with a 2-story multi-purpose building. It will serve as the main chapel and classrooms.
Democratic Republic of Congo
Our annual Congo Bible Camp was canceled at the last minute due to Covid lockdowns and border closings. The cancellation ended up being a benefit for our Uvira school: just a few weeks before the Bible camp would have started, torrential rain and massive flooding in Uvira killed 36 people, damaged 15,000 homes, and displaced over 70,000 people. About 30 of our regular camp attendees were affected by the flooding in Uvira, and would not have been able to attend the camp since the flood damage took priority over everything else.
Pililo Amani, our school director, and his assistant, Shindano Andre, were two of thousands who lost their homes and all their possessions in the flooding. Thank God, none of their family members lost their lives. They were able to temporarily move in with family members until they could find new housing. The flood disaster, along with the Covid lockdown, caused widespread spikes in the cost of living. We’re very thankful that God moved many of you to help out financially with their burdens. Your assistance has truly been a blessing!
Local authorities designated our school as one of the temporary community shelters, and herded dozens of disaster-struck families onto our school property. While we were grateful for the opportunity to help, the people were, for the most part, rather unruly. Regional Director Pililo reports that by the time they left our facility a few weeks later, they had destroyed almost all our desks, chairs and doors. Unfortunately, this setback caused us to delay reopening the school.
Our Bukavu school is still going through growing pains after having moved in from the outskirts of the city. It’s been a difficult transition, but now that we’re a bit more settled, director Nanza has been able to triple our student body and double the staff members. There are still many unreached deaf people in the city, so pray with us that director Nanza will continue to grow both the school and the church in Bukavu.
In the city of Baraka, God continues to show His faithfulness to us by
steadily growing both the school and church. A few months ago, director Shukuru married a deaf young lady from Goma, a major city to the north. His wife, Mpasa, is one of several new teachers that has joined his rapidly growing school. God has blessed us by providing a solar electricity station and a small on-site water vat. (The city doesn’t provide water or electricity in that part of the city). Unfortunately, the landlord wants to sell the property quickly. His asking price is far more than the land is worth, so we’ll need to relocate within the next couple of months. We’ve found what appears to be a good piece of property nearby. Pray with us that we’ll be able to secure it before someone else buys it, and that we’ll be able to build a suitable school quickly.
Indeed, your prayers are coveted!
The new school year is picking up speed as our teachers and students get back into the swing of post-Covid education.
Director Yves Beosso reports that four teachers from our network of schools in Chad (two of whom are from our ECMST school in N’Djamena) will be heading to South Africa to participate in a Deafnet Centre of Knowledge conference in Worcester, South Africa. The conference will focus on education tools and techniques for deaf educators. Pray that their trip will be safe and that the training and materials will be beneficial for their schools.
In Uvira (DR Congo), we have unfortunately missed an opportunity for purchasing new land as part of our expansion. A prospective seller didn’t want to wait for the funds to be transferred, and sold his property to another buyer. Pray that Director Pililo will be able to locate another parcel of land soon and begin construction on our new building.
Our Baraka (DR Congo) school is seeing continued growth. Our four newest students are adults from neighboring villages. With no vehicle for transportation and no rooms for boarding, Director Shukuru brought these four students live with him and his new wife in their one-bedroom home, while they saved up for the usual 4-month down payment for a new home to rent. Although the arrangement was culturally inappropriate, Shukuru and his wife felt it was a worthwhile sacrifice in order to educate and evangelize these deaf adults who had never stepped foot into a classroom. When I found out about the challenge, I quickly sent him the down payment funds so he could move into a bigger home and have designated male and female bedrooms for his new students. Pray for wisdom as we continue to grow.
We’ve increased the number of primary classes in Bukavu (DR Congo), and now offer the full set of six Primary classes. Director Nanza now has his hands full with three new teachers and fifteen new students. Some of the new teachers are also new to sign-language, and our P6 teacher, Fabien Morisho (who also does a lot of outreach ministry) is providing sign-language training for these teachers. Transportation continues to be a big challenge as most of the current crop of students do not live close to the school.
Indeed your prayers are coveted.
Now that summer is behind us, we’re preparing for the 2020-2021 school session. Covid quarantines have been lifted, and teachers and staff are ready to get the new year started. Additionally, two of our directors and five of our teachers in Chad and the DR Congo will be returning to university under CMD scholarships. Pray that they will continue to do well both in their studies and in their work.
In Uvira (DR Congo), Director Pililo reports that their school year ended with 71 students. Twelve had to drop out due to various health, flooding and Covid concerns. Even despite the flooding in April and Covid lockdown, most students were able to pass their grades, and all the Primary Six students graduated and are now preparing for Secondary School. We’re still waiting the test results for the students who tested to graduate from Secondary School. Pray that they’ll also have passing scores. Pray that we’ll also be able to finally start construction of our new school facility. The land acquisition has been a challenge, but we believe the final steps are in place, and Lord willing, we’ll begin construction in November.
We praise God for Director Shukuru’s recent marriage to Mpasa, a deaf young lady from Goma. Pray for them as they adjust to married life, and that she will make a smooth transition from the big city of Goma to Shukuru’s small town of Baraka (DR Congo). We’re excited to have her on board as our new Primary 3 / Primary 4 teacher!
Great news in Chad: Mission Projects Fellowship will be sponsoring our center in the purchase of a pickup truck! Praise God for meeting this long-standing need. Director Yves reports that they have added seven new students for the 2020-2021 school year, and three additional students cannot come because they live too far away and cannot afford the boarding room rates. Pray that we’ll be able to find sponsors for these families.
Pray with us as we re-evaluate our strategy in Bukavu (DR Congo). Many of the students travel long distances to attend our school. The need is great, but the resources are limited, and transportation is a huge challenge. Pray for wisdom as we explore new options for serving the deaf in this large city.
Indeed, your prayers are coveted.
The Lord has been gracious to us during these Covid19 times.
Although school has been suspended across most of Africa, we have been able to make good use of the down-time to greatly improve our facility in N’Djamena, Chad. Director Yves Beosso reports that all the faculty and administrative buildings have been rebuilt and are now in use. Praise God! The one building remaining is the two-story multi-purpose building that has been on hold for the past several months. It will serve as the chapel, with classrooms on the 2nd floor. Pray that the Lord will continue to provide for this building so it can be completed.
Due to scheduling delays, Director Shukuru Hertier has had to postpone his wedding from August 29th till September 5th. In this region of the Congo, wedding dates are assigned by the government after the couple registers for a marriage certificate. Travel and accommodations are all hampered by Covid19 restrictions, and the cost of living (and the cost of marriage) goes up as well, with many unexpected increases around every corner. Shukuru’s new wife will join him as the Primary 3 teacher at his school in Baraka. Pray for a smooth transition as all these pieces come together very rapidly over the next few weeks.
We’re pleased to announce that our university scholarship candidates in Chad and the Congo received high marks across the board. Their scholarship requires high academic performance (in addition to their regular teaching duties), so we’re very thankful that the last round of students will be returning to university this fall. Pray for their continued success.