Kimbilio Sewing School
First Cohort 2021
Divorce rules are harsh in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The man may divorce the wife for very little in order to form a new marriage and leave her with nothing. No provisions are provided to the widow.
Kimbilio feeds up to 100 children living on the streets of Lubumbashi. The transit houses accommodate 12 boys and 12 girls. Children are given a place in the residential unit because they are particularly needy. For example, they are ill, perhaps with malaria, malnutrition, or both. Or they are exceptionally young, or they are a young girl at risk of sexual exploitation or have been abandoned with a baby brother or sister to care for. Once in Kimbilio’s care, the children access medical care, are fed and clothed, and given basic education, either in the home or in a local school. The reintegration process often involves some ongoing provision for the child, for example, school fees for that child might be covered, or a sack of flour might be given. Where reintegration seems impossible, the child might be transferred to one of the two long-term homes at Luowoshi, each of which accommodates 12 children. But there are still many children living on the streets who, while young, are relatively healthy and cannot be accommodated by Kimbilio. The day center provides these children with clean water and soap to wash themselves and their clothes, tuition in basic literacy and numeracy, a simple breakfast, and a hot lunch. The girls have basic sewing education, and often our artist, Joel, will give them an opportunity to paint. During the coronavirus crisis, the day center was not allowed to open. The staff walked the streets looking for the children and gave them a hot meal, which was received with rapture.
Nénette is 45 and divorced. She has nine children, of which four are currently living with her: twin boys Manassé and Bethsalem (14), Marie (11), and Nénette (8). Kimbilio came into contact with her when Manassé was reintegrated back into the family. This was after a period of living on the streets and trying to earn a living. Mireille reports that there is no food in the house, and the family lives in extreme poverty. There is no money to pay the small school fees. Nénette is ecstatic about the idea of learning a skill that will enable her to feed her children and send them to school. She is shown with Manassé, the child whom Kimbilio cared for.
Priscilla has been nominated by her mother to do the course. Her mother is old and frail. She is not able to do the course or to work. Of her mother’s eight children, five are still living at home: Priscilla (18), Enoch (16), twins Esther and Abigail (14), and David (12). Enoch lived on the streets for some time and subsequently spent several months in the boy’s transit house before reintegrating into the family. Mireille reports that the whole family is living in extreme poverty.
Priscilla is keen to do the course and gain an income that will allow her to buy food for her younger brothers/sisters and send them to school. Priscilla is pictured with Enoch.
Nicole is a widow and is 53 years old. She is homeless and has no food other than what she is given. She currently lives in the church in which Kimbilio is based with the three youngest of her 11 children: Nana (16), her son Patshelie (14), and Enock (9).
Kimbilio got to know her situation when Enock and Nana were living on the streets and came to the day center looking for food.
Nicole has no way of ever providing food or shelter for her children but has always been drawn to sewing and loves the idea of learning to sew as a way of providing her children with food, housing, and education. Nicole is pictured with Enock.
Nénette is 43 and still married but is not able to provide for her children. She has had seven, but four of them are still living at home, including Marvine (14-year-old boy), Grace (nine-year-old girl), and twins Blessing (a girl) and Rayane (a boy), both four years old. Marvine spent some time on the streets and later spent a few months at the boys’ transit home before being reintegrated.
Her husband cannot pay any rent for even the simplest home, so she and her children are living with his family in very overcrowded conditions. She has no money to send the children to school. Nénette hopes to be able to earn a living through sewing, so she has the ability to send the children to school. She is pictured with Marvine.