Alumni Spotlight: Anuarite Kahambu

After graduating from secondary school and succeeding in the state exams, Anuarite Mathe Kahambu, set her sights on the next chapter in her education. However, with two older brothers still completing their studies, her father said she would have to wait a year. As farmers in the small town of Oicha, financially supporting one, let alone two children, was already a challenge.

Though Anuarite was disappointed, she knew her time would come. But she also knew if she could find a good, affordable university nearby, she could continue on her journey and dream to attend university sooner rather than later.

Then, one day she heard on the radio an advertisement for Université Chrétienne Bilingue du Congo in nearby Beni. She called the number provided and spoke with a UCBC staff member. She was inspired as the staff member explained UCBC’s philosophy – being transformed to transform, the community focus, Women’s Voices, and the desire to help students not only succeed in their studies but provide a space for spiritual formation.

And, thanks to your support of our NEXT 500 campaign, she was able to enroll at UCBC 2015. Throughout her studies, she learned and enjoyed many aspects of UCBC’s transformative education. But one word stood out from her educational experience – humility.

Anuarite explains, “Through UCBC, I learned that someone can receive a diploma but humility is the key to whatever you go on to do. I learned this from UCBC staff. I took this example of humility and incorporate it into my life and work today. I feel very hopeful that one day the vision of UCBC will be accomplished and I pray that God uses me to expand this vision. I want to be a source of blessings to many and to use my knowledge to help all those who are in need of my service.”

Anuarite graduated this past year with a degree in Computer Engineering and is now working as a database manager at EREST (Renewable Energy and Healthy Environment for All) in Beni. She believes that a better future Congo is possible through the next generation of leaders and wants to play a role in the areas of renewable energy and the environment. She recently visited UCBC on International Women’s Day and spoke on the importance of STEM education and women in sciences.

“I dream of a Congo in which youth are actors not observers. I want to be one of these actors and use my knowledge to help those in need.”

Student Stories: Sylvie Lukala

Sylvie Lukala has a message for the people of Congo. Well, really for the world.

“I do not want to see them underestimate women. We need to trust women at school or in different environments they work. I want to say to women and girls never to be underestimated in life, because all people have their potential…their qualities, and are able to do something. If not to say a word, maybe to dance, if it is not to dance, maybe to walk well.”

As the new secretary of Women’s Voices, Lukala is passionate about lifting up women and encouraging them to pursue their dreams. And, she has a dream of her own – to one day start a fashion business that provides employment opportunities for women.

“Fashion is a passion for me. Even from a young age, my parents told me I was too into clothing and dress up too much,” she said with a laugh.

Born in Bukavu, her family arrived in Beni because of her father’s work with the international organization, Oxfam. In her family of 11 (6 sisters and 4 brothers), education was always encouraged and prioritized. Though Lukala is not the first to attend a university, she believes UCBC is different and provides a unique opportunity to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to achieve her goals and dreams.

“For my future life I have goals, but before UCBC I did not know how I can make them concrete. But now, I understand that we must not only have dreams, but we must also know how to accomplish them. Once we limit ourselves only to dreaming and not to accomplishing, we risk dreaming forever while not accomplishing anything,” she explained.

Lukala is aware that throughout society in general, but also at other universities, women face an uphill battle when it comes to achieving their dreams. This is why UCBC plays an important role in her life and why the student-led group, Women’s Voices, continues to act as a foundational support.

“Other universities tend to reject a woman’s opinion and underestimate her. You also do not see a lot of women staff or faculty members. But, here at UCBC, this is not the case. UCBC offers a space where women have opportunities to get positions. We can even notice it by seeing women in the offices and in the classroom,” she said.

Sylvie and Adephine Angemito

One of these staff members is UCBC alumna, Adelphine Angemito(13’), now serves as the Human Resource Officer for Congo Initiative. Angemito played a key role in establishing Women’s Voices and continues to mentor student leaders as they continue to promote gender equality. Lukala found her footing through Angemito’s mentorship and the group.

“Mrs. Adelphine Angemito taught us a lot just by the way she carries herself professionally and encourages other women to dream and to go after those dreams. Before being a part of the Women’s Voices group, I did not know that I had leadership qualities in me. Women’s Voices helped me discover who I am, where I belong, and what is possible to achieve as a woman,” Lukala said.

But, Angemito shares her own admiration and appreciation for Lukala.

“Since she arrived at UCBC, she dedicated herself to serving the group and enhancing its communication. She even dreams of starting a Women’s Voices print magazine, radio broadcast, and web presence. She is a great leader who is committed to expanding Women’s Voices presence in the community,” she said.

Following the footsteps of past leaders like Angemito, Lukala finds strength in faith and calls for unity and collaboration when it comes to promoting equality.

“Every woman is called to discover first who she is and what she can do. She can discover her identity in Christ as a model, trusting in herself, and being the one to define her life. For men and women in my family and in the community, I want them to live in unity, and men to accompany and trust women to accomplish something good.”

Student Stories: Hekima Kalumni

UCBC agribusiness student Hekima Kalumni played a key role in organizing the 2018 Women’s Voices conference centered on the theme, “Invest in the Transformational Leadership of Women.” Her extraordinary leadership encourages other female students to be bold in their educational pursuits and to recognize their strength as leaders, even if the world around them tries to tell them otherwise. For students like Kalumni, waiting on the world to change is not an option. Surrounded by a supportive community like Women’s Voices, she and other women in Congo know now is the time to discover their identity as leaders.

However, Hekima did not always have this confidence. Before coming to UCBC, she had “low self-esteem” and did not recognize her qualities and strengths. In her first year, Hekima began to recognize her potential as well as her role in leading transformation in Congo. She grew passionate about agribusiness and now wants to encourage others to pursue agricultural entrepreneurship. She witnessed older female students become leaders at UCBC, and eventually as alumni working in the wider community. And now, not only is she serving as a role model to younger students but as the second child of nine and the oldest daughter, Hekima is setting the stage for generations to come by attending a university and becoming a transformational leader.

“I have visions [for the future of Congo]. My long-term vision is to work towards the development of my country. My short-term vision is to encourage youth to be involved in agriculture entrepreneurship. I want to motivate farmers and create opportunities for them so they can sell their products,” Hekima explained.

In her first few years at UCBC, Hekima learned the important role women can play in leading agribusiness initiatives. She recognizes that “women have potential in various domains. But, in agriculture, UN studies show that with the same technological, financial, agriculture material conditions, women are 30% more productive than men. UNESCO has also shown that for an educated woman, her child has a 50% chance live beyond 5 years.”

For these reasons, investing in women’s education and agribusiness is critical for improving the livelihoods of women, children, and men in Congo. The good news, Hekima shared, is that “investment in women has already started; we can see it here at UCBC! I am among those who were selected for an agribusiness scholarship for women. For those who received this scholarship, it is time that we need to work hard and show people our potential.”