My personal story begins with the desire to visit the Mountain gorilla's in DR Congo. Within days the beautiful nature and warmhearted people stole my heart and made me decided to take action.

Honestly, at first I went to Congo only to visit the mountain gorillas and hike up to the Nyiragongo volcano. However, at my first day we went shopping for food and I sadly noticed kids covered in dirt, sleeping on plastic garbage with a water bottle for a pillow. I asked my guide where their parents were and he told me that they had no parents or any adult who could look after them.

This broke my heart and at that moment we had already spent all our money so we told them that we would come back to help them.

Some more walking and driving around in the city and I started noticing that these kids weren’t an exception. There are countless.

My tour to the mountain gorillas started and this was a truly emotionally beautiful meeting with our family for which I am very grateful. (They share approximately 98% of our DNA).

After I went to take a hike towards and on the Nyiragongo volcano. This lava crater is the biggest one in the world. Unfortunately, the area surrounding Goma is full of active volcanoes, in 2002 an eruption made life for people there even harder.

 

After I had seen all this exceptional natural beauty I still could not get the images of the children out of my head. I was laying in bed and decided to not just buy them some food by myself but to tell the story on Whatsapp and raise money through a public payment request (Tikkie) which I sent to all of my friends and family.

 

I woke up the next morning and there was already €840 raised!! This changed my perspective, I started to believe that we could not only help these kids with a one-time meal, clothes and some toys but we could give them shelter for a whole year.

Time for action

We arranged a diner for 26 of the kids in the guesthouse where I was sleeping. My tour guide had some connections to landlords who maybe had some property for sale. At first there were a lot of people who did not care about the purpose and just wanted to make money out of a ‘Mzungu’ (white guy).

We almost gave up when Amani’ his old father called. His close Muslim friends had a place we could go and have look at. It was located in a good neighborhood and they asked a very reasonable rent of $890 dollar a year. We told them we would decide the day after and then we could set up the contract.

 

After this arrangement, we went to search for the kids we saw and brought them to the guesthouse. After eating chips with chicken and salad, we danced and played football. It was a night filled with laughter and joy, the kids had so much fun and the gratefulness they showed me gave me an incredible feeling I had never experienced before. It was really a night full of children simply being children.

 

From that moment on, turning back wasn’t an option to me and we called the landlord that the deal was ok. Letting them return to the streets afterwards was hard but we were hoping to give them a home in a few weeks time. The contract was signed and the team was formed.

Location 4Watoto Orphanage

Our Orphanage is located in Goma, this is the capital of the North Kivu province in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is located on the northern shore of Lake Kivu, next to the Rwandan city of Gisenyi. Goma lies only 13–18 km (8.1–11.2 mi) south of the active Nyiragongo Volcano.

 

Goma’s recent history has been dominated by the volcano and the Rwandan genocide of 1994, which in turn fueled the First and Second Congo Wars. The aftermath of these events was still having effects on the city and its surroundings in 2010. The city was captured by rebels of the March 23 Movement during the M23 rebellion in late 2012, but has since been retaken by government forces.

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4Values of 4Watoto

Small-scaled housing:

Homelike environment
To offer safety & peace
Healthy meals
24/7 fostering & security
Environment friendly

Focused education:

Individual and group teachings
Weekly routine with a diverse program
Development of individual interest & skills
Build-up responsibilities
Multilingual
Embracing Congolese culture

Good communication:

Transparency
Honesty and respectful
Weekly evaluation, reflection
Equality
Teamwork

Staff:

Local, passionate Congolese team along with international volunteers
Adaptive to the needs of the children
Loving and supportive
Positive approach to life
Conscious guidance
Gender-mixed