Packing it in to help Congolese children
A family in Pincourt is packing up their lives and moving to Central Africa so they can help poor and orphaned children living in circumstances they say most Canadians can not grasp. And a fundraiser this Friday will helpwith their goal.
Cheryl Walker and her African born husband, Lambert Laki-Laka, feel compelled to give up their comfortable lives in Canada to move to the Republic of the Congo, a smallCentral African country.
The couple and their four children, Immanuel, 14, Jayden, 10, Trey, 8, and Chloe, 4, are packing up and selling their Pincourt home.
They'll move in with friends while gathering funds to take their children and belongings to the other side of the world. Once there, they'll work with an established organization to create a lasting home for poor and orphaned Congolese children. Walker says her dream has always been to help kids.
And while living in 2004 with her husband and three older children in Pointe-Noire, a city in the Republic of the Congo, she says she found plenty needing aid.
"The conditions there are total poverty, kids live among open garbage without food or fresh water," Walker said, adding, "They sleep in the streets without mosquito nets. Many of them are orphans whose parents have died of aids."
Her husband, who moved to Canada from Congo in 1993 to get his MBA at Université du Québec àMontréal, says people here can not grasp such poverty.
"Children here open the fridge and even if it's full they complain there is nothing to eat." He says he does not want his children to growup feeling entitled to everything.
Last spring, the family and 20 board members and volunteers established Mwana ("child in tow" in Congoleses) Villages, a registered charitable non-profit organization. The sale of their house will give them enough money to permanently move to Pointe-Noire.
Once there, Lambert will work full time in business while Cheryl runs the organization.
"Our vision is to build multi-functional villages where street orphans will live in homes with a "rescuemom," a woman who will take care of them," Cheryl explained.
The organization will provide a "relevant" education by teaching kids sustainable skills such as agriculture, money management, and other trades. "Things they need to be successful in their culture," Walker said, adding, "It's a huge endeavour... we want to helpnow."
Mwana Villages hopes to raise enough money each year to keep the organization self-sustaining.
They say they can also accept donations of unused air miles, allowing them to bring teachers over from Canada to work with the orphans.
This Friday, the group will host an African Culture and Humanitarian fundraiser from 6 to 9 p.m., at 5567, côte Saint-Antoine in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce.
The event will feature cultural kiosks, African food preparation techniques, an African instrument table, hair braiding techniques and much more. A variety concert will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Tickets can be bought in advance.
To purchase tickets, call 514 377-0344 or go towww.mwana.ca.
The Laki-Laka'swant to clean up this orphanage where children live among garbage.