Mattresses dry in the sun outside the Congo for Christ Center. The 57 orphans of the Center sleep on the mattresses at night, then stack them or put them outside during the day. The younger orphans share mattresses due to a lack of space and supply. However, the main complaint raised by the children is of snakes invading their space during the cool of night.
Ramazani Djumba, 17, rests between kitchen chores after carving pineapple for the evening meal. He and an assortment of older orphans have several responsibilities, such as washing clothes, tending the 'shamba' (garden) and aiding in the kitchen.
Hariza Kidoge (center) stands hidden among bouquets of local plants on the shore of Lake Tanganyika. On this day, he and five other orphans were baptized in the early morning by their faith leaders.
A ceremonial cow is slaughtered on the CCC grounds by local butchers. The special occasion is the 2014 Pentecostal Revival Bible College (PRBC) graduation of three students. Bringing their own tools–a few small knifes and a couple of machetes– the small team sliced the throat of the cow and awaited the bleeding out process before arranging its position (pictured here) to be skinned and quartered. Beef is not a typical menu item for the orphanage, however, on special occasions beef is expected by the guests to be served.
Esperance Martha, age 9, naps in the grass between clapping games on the CCC campus. The grounds have been fenced off in the last year, which provides the children with more room and safety for playing and relaxing.
A local politician visits the CCC's latest campus additions during the a dedication ceremony. Accompanied by an entourage of cameras, officials, aids, and an armed escort, his presence demonstrated the importance of the Center within the community. The dignitary was asked during his inspection to pave a road over the rocky path to the Center and provide a police outpost to protect the new students and the orphans. Security and travel limitations are two of the most pressing problems the children deal with on a daily basis.
Motorcycles and other vehicles clutter the N5 highway running through Uvira, making it one of the most dangerous roads in the city. Accidents and fatalities happen often.
Uvira is a city in Sud-Kivu Province, Democratic Republic of Congo, located at the north end of Lake Tanganyika. Uvira is also connected to other cities by a lake port called Kalundu, located at the southern end of the city. The population of Uvira is reported as 378,736 people, as of 2012.
Shila Ngoma rides in the back of the visiting team's hired transport after Christian services at the Congo for Christ Missionaries Church, near the shores of Lake Tanganyika. The auto transportation is a rare occurrence for the orphans, their normal mode being via foot several kilometers to church and back every week. It is often dangerous for the orphans to commute by foot. The outside community sees the care and gifts provided to the Center from the U.S., which creates tension and leads to theft and confrontation both on and off the Center's premises.
Noe Mazamani being helped into the front seat of a transport by Bernard Isaya. Noe was told at a young age that he was cursed by witchcraft. He later was found to suffer from polio. He is unable to participate in many activities with the rest of the orphans, although he makes his way down the mountain to school five days a week, forty-five minutes each way. Walking down on his own crutches or carried by his peers is the usual routine, but because of the team's visit from the U.S, the children were able to ride with the hired transportation.
Noe practicing English along with his fellow classmates, the first lessons in the newly built Mango Tree School located on the CCC premises. The older orphans do not attend Mango Tree, but in secondary schools the village. Because of Noe's condition, he attends an alternate school alone.
The Center's new Mango Tree School is open to enrollment for the surrounding community, while the orphans' enrollment fees are taken care of by their monthly sponsorships from U.S. donors.
Noe attending Christian services at Congo for Christ Missionaries Church (CCMC) on a Sunday morning. Noe’s condition prevents him from attending CCMC services most Sundays as it takes too long walk to the church and too hard for the other children to carry him. It was said that Noe's grandmother attends CCMC and spends time with him when he is there.
Women lead worship in dance and song in the sanctuary of Congo for Christ Missionaries Church (CCMC) near the shore of Lake Tanganyika. CCMC is pastored by Jeremiah Rukukuye, who oversees the Congo for Christ Center and the orphans that are raised there. The CCC orphans attend services a couple times a week, typically leading worship as one of the three choirs of CCMC. Church services usually last four to six hours and are one of the few influences by the community from outside the Center's premises.
Two young church-goers present their Sunday attire in the sanctuary of Congo for Christ Missionaries Church (CCMC) after services concluded for the day. Church provides the orphans of CCC with social diversity being one of the few places they encounter other children and families, like these two girls.
Residents of Uvira bathing in Lake Tanganyika in the dusty gray of a hazy sunrise on a Sunday Morning. The Lake is the second largest freshwater lake in the world and estimated to be the second deepest, following Lake Baikal in both categories. Uvira is near the northernmost reach of the Lake.
Echilo Machozi supervises Felix Batende as he waters the orphanage's crops in the early morning on the CCC grounds. Echilo is the Center's farmer, responsible for the "shamba" (garden), while also acting as a member of the kitchen staff cooking for the 57 orphans from 6am to 6pm daily. The orphanage is attempting to provide for itself in more sustainable ways, particularly by growing its own food. The kitchen staff reported that their weekly diet consists of beans, rice, ugali, fish or goat, and a variety of vegetables, including 'linga-linga' which is a spinach-like plant grown on the grounds.
Cheka Zaina (left) and Seraphine Nyota (right) feverishly scoop red-shovel regulated portions from a hot pot of ugali in the sweltering heat of the late afternoon. The kitchen staff begins the day at 6am, although breakfast is not a meal the Center provides. The primary stove and wood storage is a two room building, although the majority of food prep is conducted in a tarped area. The staff employees use small fires, big multi-use pots, plates and plastic bags for their cooking purposes.
Heritier Isaac presents his sketches of American magazine spreads in the boys dormitory of CCC. He aspires earn a medical degree in a neighboring country like Swaziland. For most orphans approaching eighteen, like Heritier, the future is uncertain. Not all of the children at CCC will be able to obtain the money, earn the grades or receive the support to achieve such educational goals. The hope is present but the means are unclear for all the kids creeping towards the "aging out" period of orphanage life.
Noe Mazamani works on a Rubik’s Cube in the evening breeze on the hilltop above the orphanage. The leaders of the Center first found him unable to walk, forced to crawl about. However, with the help of surgeries and therapy, he has become self-sufficient in as many ways as he can. Noe and his peers at the Congo for Christ Center are poised at a transitional time. Will their care and provision thus far prepare them for the realities of the outside world? Will they "age out" of the system into universities or apprenticeships? With one side of the scale weighed down by the challenges facing the 57 orphans in Uvira, the other side of the scale is raised by the hope of a better future.