My name is Antoine Musemena Shabani.
Together with my wife, Mathy Musemena Yuma Asia, in 2003 I was forced to flee my homeland, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), when peace ceased to exist in the eastern region where we lived.
The Mai Mai2 raped my 12- year-old daughter in front of me and abducted her, and this is when my wife and I decided to flee. To this day, I have had no news of my daughter and no one has been able to help me find her.
We sought asylum in Cape Town, South Africa, living there as refugees. My wife was lucky enough to receive a bursary to study for and achieve a certificate in early childhood development from Cape Town College in the Cape Flats. I received a qualification from Rondebosch Varsity College in school management.
In 2008, we were forced to return to the DRC when xenophobic attacks broke out in Cape Town.3We returned to our home town of Kisangani to open the Good Shepherd School. We felt strongly that we needed to start this educational project to bring change to children in the DRC. The changes that we are talking about here are mindset changes. We want students to learn English, and to learn how to choose what is good and to reject what doesn’t match our Congolity. We want to raise the standard of education in our country so that our children can compete on an equal global playing field. We work hard to stop children feeling inferior because they cannot access the same quality school as children in other places. We now expose them to the South African national curriculum, while we work to improve the Congolese education system with our students at the same time.
Doing all we can
Good Shepherd School has national authorisation to run the school. We are required to teach in English as a first language, and to use French as a second teaching language. We admit that we do not have all the school materials we need, but we offer what we have and we do our best to buy what we can to help our children touch, see and hear a wide variety of educational resources. We long for books, toys, games and computers for more children in the primary school, as well as the nursery school. As our lessons progress, so we are creating a literacy, numeracy and life skills guide, called English for Kids at Home, that can be used by our students and others in our community.
The school itself is not connected to the internet, but we take our children almost every day to public internet providers, which is very expensive.
ISASA a beacon of hope
We joined ISASA last year after contacting the South African embassy in the DRC. Once we had connected with ISASA, we filled in our forms and ISASA accepted us. With this organisation’s experience, we will do more to bring change in our country. Also, our affiliation to ISASA gives hope to Congolese families and to foreign families who have settled here. We hope to improve our partnership with ISASA every year.
Creating change agents
The school dream is to see our children in Grade 12, capable of passing the South African matric examinations as well as the Congolese national examinations. We want them to be able to use technology. This will allow them to access further education in the DRC or abroad, according to their parents’ wishes and abilities. This will help these children to be the change agents we seek for our country, for Africa and for the world.
By making these goals public in our community, Good Shepherd School is teaching children to comprehend the statement made by American president Barack Obama: “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
1. See, for example: http://www.enoughproject.org/conflicts/eastern_congo/armedgroups.
2. See, for example: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/battle-control-drc-who-are-maimai- groups-1526276.
3. See, for example: http://www.irinnews.org/news/2008/05/23/xenophobicattacks- spreading.
4. See, for example: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/b/ barackobam409128.html.
Category: Winter 2016