Listen to UCBC alum, Amos Kambale Taluliva (’12), share about his work with youth in Congo that was inspired by his education at UCBC.
Adelphine Angemito graduated in 2013. She now serves as human resources coordinator for Congo Initiative in Beni.
When Linda Kasali Musavuli first moved to Beni, she did not plan to study at UCBC. After attending secondary school in the big city and capital, Kinshasa, she could not imagine leaving the larger universities of the city for a young university in the town of Beni. In fact, she wanted to study some day in the U.S. or Canada. But, after some convincing from family and friends, she decided to attend an orientation at UCBC and participate in the intensive English courses.
On the second day, she began to appreciate the environment and community at UCBC. She began to feel a stir in her heart and felt “God was opening her eyes, helping her see beyond what she was seeing.” Though not entirely ready and cautious, she decided to stay in Beni and enroll.
Learning to balance life as a student and eventually, as a spouse and mother, her experience at UCBC not only provided an environment to grow academically and spiritually, it prepared her for future opportunities.
“The intensive courses were difficult. But, when I went to African International University (AIU) in Nairobi I realized it helped me, made me stronger to face challenges. At AIU, they have a semester schedule where you take one course the entire semester. But, at one time I was taking 7-8 courses and even my lecturers were concerned. But, I told him I would make it because I knew I succeeded at UCBC. So, it was a challenge that became an opportunity and I succeeded because of the preparation at UCBC,” she said.
Watch Linda describe the important role UCBC plays in Congo and why she is excited to be back as part of the staff!
Linda graduated from AIU with a Masters of Divinity in Missions in 2016 and has returned to Beni with her husband, Jean Musavuli, to work with the Faculty of Theology and the Center for Church Renewal and Global Mission. She is excited to join the UCBC team and serve as a leader, mentoring students through their own transformation and encouraging especially women to take on studies and leadership roles.
When the Academic Dean for Teaching, Innocent Bora, read the academic results at the 2016 UCBC graduation, the crowd erupted in cheers when Clarisse Ngoyi’s name was read. Ngoyi graduated with distinction and at the top gradu-ate in her class.
A native of Beni and the daughter of parents working in the medical profession, Ngoyi grew up knowing the importance of education. Both her parents serve in the medical profession at a local hospital. Ngoyi’s interests, however, were in communications, and she was pleased to hear a university in her hometown offered such a program. More over, she was drawn to UCBC’s mission and values.
“I chose to attend UCBC because I wanted to study at university different from others in DRC. UCBC is exalting some good spiritual values and virtues that we don’t find in other universities in DRC,” Ngoyi said.
One of the challenges in Congo is the presence of hierarchal and sometimes corrupt administration of schools and universities. For a passionate and committed student like Ngoyi, attending a university that provided a comfortable space was crucial.
Reflecting on her time at UCBC and comparing it with what she has heard about other universities in Congo, Ngoyi explained, “I enjoyed the community life. We shared our lives without any fear. We were considered equal to staff members and there was no corruption. As I studied my courses, I received the grade I deserved. In other universities, it is hard to get the grade you deserve.”
For Ngoyi, her studies are on the one hand, her passion. She loves to study, to learn, to engage challenging concepts and think how they apply to her chosen field of communications. But, she is also aware of the gender disparity, and the important role education plays in creating future opportunities for women. As a student and a member of Women’s Voices, Ngoyi worked to promote women in education and continues to encourage female students to participate fearlessly in a culture that remains male-dominated.
“I try to tell women not to be discouraged or underestimate themselves thinking that they are inferior compared to men in the faculty of their choice, in the choice of university. We are all the same and equal and they should feel themselves able to also go to school because it’s very important for a woman to study,” Ngoyi said.
As a graduate, Ngoyi hopes to find a job opportunity in Beni, incorporating the spirit of service and community garnered during her time at UCBC. But, her true desire is to pursue graduate studies and look for opportunities to excel in her field – opportunities to improve her country.
“I chose communications, thinking how can I benefit my country and people in need. I want to deepen my knowledge in my domain so I can work effectively and help my country. I believe through our new generation we can change the situation in Congo.”
Esther Sumner grew up in Kenya and attended school at Rift Valley Academy near Nairobi. She recalls a period of time when an influx of kids from Congo came to her boarding school. She would later learn the visitors fled their homes and school due to conflict and unrest.
Admittedly, Esther explained “besides that moment in my memory, I knew very little about Congo.” But, this would change when years later she would come to learn more about the challenges of DR Congo and the impactful work of Congo Initiative (CI) and Université Chrétienne Bilingue du Congo (UCBC).
How did you first learn about Congo and Congo Initiative?
Esther: I started going to a focus group at my church (Elmbrook Church) in Wisconsin. This focus group met once a month to pray and learn about the history and challenges of Congo. I also had a friend from my time in Kenya who lived in Congo and she suggested books to learn about the background and concerns for the well-being of the country. I had some vague knowledge that things were not good in Congo. But, it was really Congo Initiative that informed me about the realities.
What were your initial reaction and thoughts?
Esther: I think in the west you only hear bad news coming out of Congo all the time. The stories of people being raped, killed, and the dictator rulers. I definitely had a sense of sadness and empathy for those difficult challenges. Even in the books I read, you see the culture that grew out of a colonial history and Mobutu’s dictatorship. So, it makes sense to feel hopeless. But, I also knew there was more to the story and that is what I love about UCBC. There is hope, good things are happening, not just the fact people are resilient, but things are changing.
I’m reminded of a friend who worked in the south of Congo and she is really disillusioned by her experience there and lack of change. But when I share stories happening through UCBC with her, she is incredulous. Amazed by the stories like the two UCBC students who were stopped and harassed by customs in Congo, but ended up explaining to the officials how corruption is destroying the country.
People often see Congo as “tragic,” but there is an amazing resiliency to get through the difficult history and now you see these stories of hope.
What inspired you to become a monthly donor to UCBC?
Esther: This idea of training young people, that are not quite disillusioned – have the energy, and sending them out as leaders throughout Congo really resonated with me. It is really what will bring change and it is coming from the inside of Congo. Not another western program from the outside. I feel strongly that it is Congolese-led and that education is the way to empower people. But, not just that, I appreciate it is based in a Christian faith that is committed to service and a way of life.
I feel honored to be a supporter of CI and UCBC since the beginning, because you witness what is possible. It can seem impossible and there is fear that it may not go somewhere. But, to hear stories of transformation and even small changes, is incredible. And the anticipation that comes with knowing these new leaders are going out there to influence others around them in whatever field, testifies to the impact being made.
Why do you think it is important to support UCBC students? What makes UCBC unique in the eastern Congo context?
Esther: I just appreciate the history behind it – the founders being Congolese, asking a lot of questions to the community first. What is needed? That is where everyone should start. Then listening and coming up with a solution from grassroots and making it happen. I also found the triadic training to be unique. The emphasis on service in a context where a degree is often seen as bringing prestige and a mentality of “what can this degree accomplish for me?”
What encouragement would you give to the students at UCBC?
Esther: Though they are young, they have experienced so much. So, in many ways, they are older than I, and I feel inspired by them. And I know that as others hear their stories, they too will be inspired and encouraged.
Esther now lives in Atlanta with her husband and two kids. Besides raising her daughter and son, Esther also works in visual communications.