Dave Mantle and Deanne Bennett who are the founding trustees of Working Together-Congo were recently delighted to be invited by Murhabazi Namegabe, who is the founder of BVES, to meet with him during his recent visit to London.
Murhabazi had been invited by the UK government to attend the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, which was held at the Excel centre in London. The summit was attended by over 140 world leaders and hosted by Angelia Jolie and William Hague.
During the meeting Murhabazi was warm and welcoming. “He seemed genuinely please to see us” said Dave who added, “my aim for the meeting was to express our appreciation of him, yet he was so appreciative of us, it threw me. He had even stated that meeting with WTC was one of his reasons for visiting the UK when applying for his visa.”
During the meeting, which included translators provided by Save the Children, Murhabazi updated Dave and Deanne on how BVES now provide education for over 900 returning child-soldiers and displaced children. This is an increase of over 400 since 2013, and WTC are the only charity that solely funds all aspects of that education. “This strongly indicates that the impact made by WTC is bigger than we had imagined, and that without our funding, the education of 900 kids would be in jeopardy” said Dave, who was pleased to confirm that in addition to the $6k sent to BVES earlier this year, WTC are now in a position to send a further grant of $6k in September. Dave informed Murhabazi that this had been made possible by the contribution of the University of Sussex students who did a magnificent job of raising funds and awareness for WTC earlier this year. Murhabazi was so impressed by this that he is offering to support placements for any students or volunteers who wish to work in the DR Congo or experience first-hand the work of BVES. An invitation was also offered to Dave and Deanne who re-iterated to Murhabazi how WTC operate, and that no donated money goes toward expenses or salaries and therefore any visits to assess the grant expenditure, on our behalf, were undertaken by others who were already visiting the DR Congo. Murhabazi stated that a full financial report detailing all money received and spent would be sent to WTC shortly.
BVES who have over 500 volunteers, have a turnover this year of $140k which is an increase of almost 100k in the last three years. This financial increase is largely due to the money awarded to Murhabazi when he won the International Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child in 2011. The work of BVES is also increasing as explained by Murhabazi, who informed Dave and Deanne that; the situation appears to be stabilising and with the folding of the M23 a lot more people are joining the Congolese Army, this has increased the amount of displaced children who need rehabilitation and education. The work of BVES has never been more important.
Dave who originally met Murhabazi in 2010 in the DR Congo, left the meeting with the lasting impression that “Murhabazi is impressive and extraordinary, the most caring and genuine man I have ever met, and that, in his hands, the hard work and the money raised by WTC is truly changing lives”.
Also attending the summit in London was Faida Kasilembo, who at the age of 11 was kidnapped, raped and forced to work as a child soldier. In 2010 BVES, led by Murhabazi, negotiated her release. Faida received her education from BVES and now makes clothes and has become an advocate for enforcing legal repercussions for rapist. She had a private meeting with William Hague and Angelina Jolie where she asked them to help to stop the sexual violence and bribery. You can read more about Faida on the next posting on the News page.