Season’s greetings! Joyeux Noël!

Season’s greetings! Joyeux Noël!

For unique Christmas gifts that keep on giving, visit our Red Bubble site.

What a year it has been for HandUp Congo and our Congolese project partners. We have much to celebrate, thanks to Champions for Congo like you ! HandUp Congo is a small non-profit based in Sydney, Australia, founded in 2005 by two sisters who grew up in the Congo, Anne and Lucy, and their friend, Betsy. The trio soon added friends around the world to support capacity building projects identified by Congolese project partners based in areas where the Hobgood family has had connections for more than 100 years.
A team of skilled volunteers visits projects every year to provide requested training such as Emergency Medicine, and to document achievements. Could there be a trip to Congo in your future? Get in touch:
Here are highlights of 2017 in pictures…

March 7 – Erina NSW

HandUp Congo volunteer Tammy Chu (right) greets Rotary Past District 9685 Governor Graeme Davies (left) and TAFE students at the International Women’s Day expo on the NSW Central Coast. Seven prominent local women’s groups and the Rotary clubs of the Central Coast hosted 40 stalls, seminars, activities and entertainment dedicated to women’s issues, reaching a crowd of 2000.

March 11 – Penrith NSW

Roseville College student Monique Leadbitter greets the curious stopping by our table at Rotary District 9685’s conference.

March 31 – Kariong NSW
« Every Girl. Everywhere. Period. » is Days for Girls’ slogan. That includes Congo! Huge thanks to Days for Girls Gosford North and DfG Avoca Beach for making 200 hygiene kits and to SewAid for donating 60 sewing kits. The kits were delivered to Congo on November 1. Explorations are now underway to make this initiative a sustainable social enterprise by local girls and women. The 17 boxes shipped by air from Australia to Congo also contained medical equipment, bee suits, eyeglasses and buoyancy belts. We thank Barry Barford, Alan Tattersall, Qantas Freight and South African Airways for their air freight logistics support.

The Days for Girls and SewAid champions are (l to r) : Sandra, Dee1, Dee2, Trudy, Lucy, Jenni and Tony. – Photo by Terri Shine
Alan Tattersall
Qantas Freight

August 5 – Kiama NSW

Sue O’Neill (left) presents Lucy Hobgood-Brown with a $1000 Pink Umbrella grant

At a Rotary Australia World Community Service (RAWCS) Eastern Region gathering, Sue O’Neill (left) presents Lucy Hobgood-Brown with a $1000 Pink Umbrella grant for the Emergency Medicine Education Project that is managed by team leader Dr Vera Sistenich. Rotary E-club of Greater Sydney also sponsored a District Grant to support a range of RAWCS Lotumbe community development projects, and topped it off with funds to buy bee-friendly trees (see details on page xxx). Thank you, Rotary!

August 13

Team Bee

Sydney Bee-cause they care! Team Bee runners and walkers raised more than $2000 for the Lotumbe beekeeping initiative at the popular City to Surf 14 km fun run. Everyone is happily buzzing around Dervla and Jin (1st and 3rd left), who were the top fundraisers (and bee-st dressed).

August 24 and 25 – Taree NSW
Hobby beekeeper, public health researcher and Emergency Medicine specialist Dr Vera Sistenich packed in a lot over a weekend in the Manning Valley of NSW Mid North Coast. HandUp Congo’s medical team leader enthusiastically told Manning Net members and Taree’s 2Bob Radio listeners how, while teaching acute emergency hospital procedures to rural doctors and nurses in the Congo, she came across Congo bees.

From there, Vera created the HandUp Congo Beekeeping Project, with the goal of raising $12,000 (USD 9,140) to pay for training of Pygmy beekeepers in the remote Congolese village of Lotumbe, as well as their equipment, the reforestation of the local forest, and development of a label for the honey and transport of the goods to sell. Vera sells her own honey in Sydney, harvested from her urban beehives, under the label of Coogee Bees for Congo. She also sells honey donated by other beekeepers like those in the Manning Valley who want to support her projects. All proceeds go to HandUp Congo’s Beekeeping and Emergency Medicine Education Projects.

« Congolese Pygmies are no longer forest dwellers, and they are the poorest of the poor, »
explains Vera. She is reaching out for ideas, funds and assistance to further develop these projects, as she wants the Congo Pygmy community to be lifted out of poverty and improve their social standing as business beekeepers.
For information contact or call Lucy on +61(0)417 272 101.

Vera at Manning Valley Industries, which has donated local honey to the projects. –Photo by Robyn Hutchinson
Vera at 2Bob Radio. –Photo by Robyn Hutchinson

Listen to the interview on Taree’s 2Bob Radio here.

September 5 – Sydney

Vivienne Cable

Image by Design stylist Vivienne Cable (centre) shares tips with guests at a sumptuous Styling for a Cause morning tea hosted by Jane Cowley. The event raised more than $2000 for Lotumbe schoolbooks. Lotumbe has seven schools, and only 30 textbooks used as teacher resources. – Photo by Terri Shine

The « Styling for a Cause » fundraiser made it possible to buy much needed textbooks for Lotumbe’s seven schools.-Photo by Ken Kobré
Pygmy children in their very basic palm frond school shelter at Lotumbe. –Photo by Blaise Bonkangu

Oct 14-Nov 3 – Congo

Ken interviews Müller for a short documentary on the evolution of Emergency Medicine in Congo.

As you may remember, HandUp Congo postponed its April trip until October due to security issues in Congo. The original Australian medical mission team was not able to re-schedule this year, but two volunteers met up in Kinshasa with Dr Müller Mundenga, Congo’s only Emergency Medicine specialist. Müller arranged for American photojournalist Ken Kobré and HandUp Congo’s Lucy Hobgood-Brown to interview Kinshasa-based Emergency Medicine stakeholders for a short video about the development of Emergency Medicine in Congo.
Ken and Müller also traveled 220 km to Kimpese, where Müller conducted training for hospital staff and medical students. They made time to video at Congo’s only beekeeping NGO, PLAAC, on their return to Kinshasa. This NGO provided training last June to Lotumbe’s Beekeeping Collective which aims to establish an income-generating social enterprise.

PLAAC bee trainers on their way to Lotumbe in June.

PLAAC bee trainers on their way to Lotumbe in June.
From there, Lucy and Ken traveled to Equateur Province, where they learned that their 600 km round trip Congo Canoe Challenge had been changed to a Speedboat Challenge! This mode of travel considerably shortened the journey, with the team traveling to Lotumbe in four hours rather than the usual 20 hours by motorized canoe.
Lucy conducted evaluations of HandUp Congo’s capacity-building projects, while Ken took photos and videos. “Lotumbe is so remote,” says Lucy, “that our visits to gather new information on the community’s needs provide hope and help us tell Lotumbe’s story abroad.”

Many achievements have been realized by the community since the team’s last visit in 2015, including Pygmy orphans enrolled in school, duck and fruit tree raising (with the goal to sell eggs and fruit for Pygmy orphans’ tuition and uniforms) and new farming techniques to fight malnutrition. Pastor Jean Entonto, whose start-up salary has been covered for two years by ICA Australia, facilitates these initiatives in his role as “Stand Up Lotumbe” Community Animator. Pastor Entonto works with the entire community on capacity-building projects that are prioritized by a management committee.

Pastor Entonto feeds ducks, an integral education project that aims to sell duck eggs to cover Pygmy orphans’ school fees.

Rotary E-Club of Greater Sydney (District 9685), in collaboration with Rotary Ekanga Mbandaka (District 9150), bought 50 bee-friendly fruit and palm trees, which were planted by Lotumbe school children on October 31 as a climate change and community service reforestation project.
For a complete trip report, to request a guest speaker, or to explore how you might contribute your skills, please contact or call Lucy on +61(0)417 272 101.

Ekanga Mbandaka Rotary leaders Blaise Bonkangu (l) and Dr Jean Bosco Gbengbassa select plants for the reforestation project.
The « Micro credit Mamas » take a joy ride on the Momboyo River, singing all the way, to show HandUp Congo’s Lucy what a difference a motor makes. The motor was made possible by micro credit supporters. The women can now access riverside markets to sell their wares, ranging from handmade soap to bread.
Lotumbe’s widows and young single mums have now established a communal garden, to ensure food security.
Ken (centre) films the Bee Collective’s departure on their quest to find new bee colonies.
A Lotumbe child who should be in school sells fish to help feed her family. Villagers live on less than $1 a day. Few can afford healthcare, tuition or garden tools that can help them eke out a living.
The HandUp Congo team

Until we meet again! Our best wishes for a New Year filled with meaning and peace. – The HandUp Congo team
NSW Team Congo members include (l to r): Barry, Maureen, Lucy, Kiran, Vera, Robyn, Cynthia, Judy. For details on HandUp Congo’s advisory team, please go to

Can you help?
In order to help our Congolese project partners reach their goals, we need to raise funds. This can be done anywhere in the world, wherever you may live! If you are willing to champion a project or event, please get in touch: / Lucy +61(0)417 272 101. A current project list and a range of event ideas is available.

Create social transformation by donating
To give today: Australians can receive tax deductibility through Rotary Australia World Community Service ( Please designate Project 20 2013-14 Lotumbe Community Development or Project 47 2015-16, Building a healthy Congo. Non-Australians may donate to HandUp Congo, Westpac Bank (341 George St, Sydney NSW 2000), BSB 032002, Account # 909433, Swift WPACAU2S. Please contact us on or Lucy on +61(0) 417272101 if you have questions, suggestions, or prefer to send a cheque. Merci mingi! (“thank you so much!”)

Thank you to our Congo Champions, which include many individuals and families, as well as our Congolese project partners:

Gifts that keep on giving
Support HandUp Congo Projects by buying your gifts on our Red Bubble site.
Like our Facebook page.

Congo Canoe Challenge 2017

October 20 2017

DAK Foundation team Anubha, Dave, Kerry and Marnie who have been so generous over the years providing medical equipment.
Alan Tattersall loads one of 17 boxes
Thank you, Qantas Freight, for your help in facilitating the cargo through S Africa and on to the DRC.
dak 4
Qantas Freight pros at work on our cargo.

From A (Australia) to C (Congo) – the 233 kg of donated goods has now arrived in Kinshasa! Thank you to DAK Foundation for medical equipment, Days for Girls for kits, SewAid for useful supplies, Sydney Bee Club for bee suits to name a few. So many good people who have given so much! Today we salute Alan Tattersall for wrangling 17 boxes and providing his ute, Qantas Freight for giving us a hugely reduced fare, Rotary’s shipping logistics guru Barry Barford, and UPC’s Clement Mamba who is clearing the boxes as we speak in Kinshasa. Merci mingi!

October 23 2017

Sunday is not a day of rest for HandUp Congo team members! American videographer Prof Ken Kobre captures visionary Congolese doctors, who are working to establish a national peak body of emergency medicine experts. This initiative is led by Dr. Muller Mundenga. Ken and Muller have been interviewing emergency medicine stakeholders to produce a short video documenting this initiative.

Team members Ken, Muller, Lucy and Linda squeezed in program and video planning over an Indian buffet lunch overlooking the Congo River. Perfect way to sit out a tropical downpour!

Day 2 in Kinshasa.

Up with the birds – am I jet lagged or do they really prefer barbed wire and fake palm trees?? Lovely Continental breakfast surrounded by Congolese art. Energised to start the busy day!


Interview with Lucy and Vera on 2Bob community radio in Taree NSW Australia on August 25, 2017

Listen to the interview here:

Small communities in regional Australia surprise us sometimes, the characters you meet and the things they achieve in life can seem amazing. Here in the Manning Valley one family is running programs in emergency medicine, sustainable food production and capacity building projects that assist community members to continue to fund school uniforms, lunches and other necessary materials.

In 2005 Lucy Hobgood-Brown and her sister Anne Zolnor worked with their friend Betsy Brill to develop this small non government organisation. The idea came to them after Lucy and Anne had just visited the community with their father. More than 10 years later HandUp Congo is still going strong with the assistance of amazing skilled volunteers like Dr Vera Sistenich.

The whole team make regular return trips to the Congo, travelling into communities that are so remote that they can only be reached by dug out canoe. Dr Sistenich has travelled back and forth with the team every year since 2015, she is working to assist emergency medical teams in their work.

In teams with no strong financial backing and little to no government support she says the lessons go both ways.

Indi Media

A contract with bees in the village of Lotumbe

A contract with bees in the village of Lotumbe.

The village of Lotumbe is located in the equatorial forest (at about 300km from Mbandaka, in the Province of Equateur in the Democratic Republic of Congo). Here and elsewhere in the province, people used to see bees around flowers but nobody could imagine that humans could handle and shelter bees which are mostly known and hated for their dangerous sting. From 12 to 25 of June, thanks to the financial support of HandUp Congo, the Disciples Community of Congo (“CDCC”) brought together 34 people to study at the “school of bees” where participants learnt the life of bees: how they reproduce, how they are organized, and their importance on the environment and the rural economy.

Two trainers, Toussaint and Gérard, were recruited from PLAAC, a cooperative of beekeepers in the province of Kongo-Central (the former Bas-Congo) and together with Engelemba Célestin, the CDCC’s agronomist, they conducted a 12-day training in Lotumbe. Their travel spent also four days for departure and returning on the river.

After this training, the trainees understood that, instead of destroying and scattering colonies of bees, the community will prepare a good environment for them and the latter will supply honey to the village of Lotumbe and the Province of Equateur as well.

We met some participants and heard from them some interesting stories. What has been their impression of the training?

Pastor Boyaba simply said:

Now, I am a beekeeper. It was for me a real discovery to learn step by step how I can improve the living conditions and increase the income of my family from beekeeping. I commit to integrate this activity in my daily ministry for the church and I hope to succeed.

For Jean Entonto, the community development assistant of Lotumbe, the continuation of the practice of what they learnt will be for Lotumbe an additional living mechanism. He thinks that “youth can now rely on beekeeping and hope to get additional income.”

Regarding the sustainability of the training, the trainers are confident in their work and join the CDCC vision on the possibility to form from Lotumbe/Equateur a strong cooperative for honey production in Congo. In fact, Gérard thinks that Equateur in large and Lotumbe in particular are good places to promote beekeeping for many reasons of which he spelled the availability of natural trees and flowers, water in abundance, local materials for making hives, the city of Mbandaka which can be a direct consumer of honey. Toussaint focuses on the cooperation when he says: “we need to have good news from the cooperative which has been created in Lotumbe. From this community structure, we will be in a permanent cooperation and together, PLAAC and Lotumbe cooperative will contribute at changing a lot of things in the lives of the youth and the whole rural community as well.”

Bees are no longer the enemies of human life in Lotumbe, they will be used for improving the daily life. The community has to protect them in order to get their product.

-by Désiré SAFARI Kanyena, community development co-worker and HandUp Congo advisor

January-March 2017 social development activities in Lotumbe

January-March 2017 social development activities in Lotumbe
Led by Pastor Jean Entonto, who has been named Lotumbe’s social development facilitator by the community, many initiatives are underway. We hope you enjoy reading his quarterly report below. The community is making great progress at sustainability, but Pastor Entonto has also identified many new needs. While the goal is that Lotumbe’s community development projects will generate income in order to cover ongoing costs, that is not yet feasible. Remember, the population is more than 90,000 scattered in hamlets throughout the forest!

If you would like to help support these exciting initiatives, please go to Tax deductibility is available.

FROM 01/01 TO 31/03/2017

As part of Débout (Stand Up) Lotumbe’s development activities, it is important to note that the preparation and presentation of reports and projects are part of my tasks. Indeed, the report referred to here concerns activities undertaken during the season from 01/01 to 31/03/2017.
This report is only a logical continuation of the previous report (report of development activities 01/10 to 31/12/2016), including some additions that have been made possible as a result of new inspirations on development.

With this in mind, apart from the introduction, some encountered difficulties and the conclusion, this report focuses on two main parts, namely:
- Activities carried out;
- Phase of donations received.

2.1. Jobs done.

2.1.1. With the Federation of Brothers and Sisters Farmers and Breeders of Congo (FFSAEC). The social movement which aims at food security through agro-pastoral projects. In this quarter, we carried out field maintenance, planting of palm trees and also held several awareness raising meetings in which we inventoried goods of the association, which include: two goats, a sow, a large field, a fish pond, and a sum of US $ 20.

2.1.2. With the teachers of the institute Nkolobise / Lotumbe (M.E.I.N), we freed three teachers by granting US $ 50 each. Then we just bought a Canal+ satellite, which will allow the people of Lotumbe to be aware of the televised information and realities that are happening in the world.

2.1.3. With the rebate project for the construction of houses in sustainable materials (Rcommad), we are continuing our activities normally. We have cleared two fields for two members: one of 60m2 and the other of 80m2 (we plan to plant grains there). We have just set up a field that meets our aspirations. This will create a new neighborhood in Lotumbe.

2.1.4. In order to raise the standard of living, seeking to support the social and health balance of our population, an association called “Mutual Health for the Disabled and Pygmies” was set up in Lotumbe on 01/02/2017 (Mushavpy-humanitarian aid) with the general objective: to take care of the handicapped and pygmies.

a. Specific objectives :
- Ensure health coverage for the handicapped and pygmies (health insurance);
- Provide means of transportation to our disabled (bicycle);
- Provide them with self-care activities;
- If possible, build a health center for pygmies.
b. Feasibility strategy: membership fee or mutual fund (sharing savings). We already have a sum of US $ 20 in our safe.
c. Number of disabled in Lotumbe: a total of 12, of which three are pygmies.

2.2. From the acquisition to the realization (using donations received)
During this period, we received from HandUp Congo via General Secretariat / Mbandaka an aid (envelope). On this, before justifying its feasibility, we would like to extend our warm congratulations and sincere thanks to HandUp Congo, ICA Australia and Mama Lucie for being realistic about the promises made and also for their/her dedication to their Lotumbe village. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Here, then, is the manner in which we have proceeded:

2.2.1. Pastor Jean Entonto’s salary from January to October 2017: $ 1080 US.
Until the proof to the contrary, I will force myself to execute what my father said before his death to me: “Listen, my son, the goods you will amass, think of sharing them with others. It is by doing so that you will reap peace and success in your journey.” That is why, using my own salary, apart from family satisfaction, I thought of others through the following:
a. Monthly, a sum of US $ 40 is voluntarily withdrawn by me from my salary and is oriented for the remuneration (incentive) to those who follow me to do development activities;
b. I bought three machetes, and other tools for field activities (to help our development associations);
c. From 10/01/2017, I provided for the hospitalization costs of Mr. IYOKE KADO (pygmy), purchasing all the medicines and hospital requirements. He suffered gangrene and appendicitis, but was helped by doctors.

Mr. IYOKE KADO lost a finger from gangrene
Medicines that I bought and gave to patients

d. In 30/03/2017, I helped Mr BOFUKIA with surgical and medicine costs at the Lotumbe Hospital. He suffered bilateral hernia and appendicitis.

Mr Bofukia with Pastor Entonto

2.2.2. Project assistance, education of 172 orphans and pygmies / Lotumbe. Here we only want to intervene on the US $ 450 which was intended for the purchase of ducks (one duck for each child).
We have encountered a great difficulty in sharing. One duck costs 5000FC, and we are overflowing with 172 orphaned and pygmy children. Normally there will be only 109 children who will receive his own duck. 63 others still do not have ducks. That is why, by mutual agreement, we have agreed to create enclosed areas for the breeding of ducks (to be shared).
I have already created the first site to support the education project, building a fence of 25m in width and 27m in length. There, I have built three chicken coops which currently contain 30 ducks, 18 hens, 2 cocks and 13 chicks.

At the second site we have an outstanding project. This is one of Lotumbe’s major development activities. A plot of 50m2 has been fenced and a three-bedroom house has been built with a sentry hired to secure our property. Ducks, pigs and goats will be housed there.
NB: Our various townships around Lotumbe pursue the following objectives:
Food security
Provide permanent production units for the support of orphans and pygmies in school.
At the third site, in the district Elinga / Lotumbe at prefect MBOMBA Samba’s home, the same objectives are pursued.
NB: We have also been informed that two brick presses have been purchased but we have not received them yet. Also, the HandUp Congo donors’ money destined for the schooling of 172 orphans and pygmies was distributed as required.

3 bedroom house

2.3. Difficulties encountered
1. For the office: the lack of solar energy systematically handicaps our activities. In this regard, the coordination office for development activities Debout Lotumbe presents below the needs that are of prime importance for its proper functioning:
- Printer-copier (US $ 450);
- A battery of 200w (US $ 220);
- A converter of 2500w (US $ 220);
- A solar panel of 200w (US $ 200);
- Some lines and other requirements (US $ 100).

Total: US $ 1190

2. For the education project of the 172 orphans and pygmies:
- At the secondary level (6th year), on 02/05/2017 there will be the dissertation. The six orphan finalists can only participate after payment of the required fees (US $ 145 each). Total: US $ 870.
- At the primary level (6th year), on 02/06/2017 the examination marking the end of primary study. The 28 finalist children, including 13 pygmies and 15 orphans, must present the requested fees. (US $ 45 each).

Total: 1260 $ US.

At the secondary level again (6th year), on 20/06/2017, six orphan finalists will face the tests that will end their secondary course. They must each pay US $ 165.

Total: US 990.

So, as part of the education project, the future difficulties are approaching.

3. For local farmers, failure of the milling machines in Lotumbe is a handicap and expense for development. Moreover, the project for the grinding machines has already been elaborated and the office asks if it can be sent to HandUp Congo for support.

4. For local builders (the rebate project for the construction of houses made of durable materials), the failure of chainsaws systematically impedes the effectiveness of the project.
5. For microcredit mothers and small local traders, the lack of access to means of transport (outboard motor) undermines the feasibility of our expectations on development.

6. For local breeders, the epidemiological acts regularly observed at Lotumbe with regard to our chickens, ducks and pigs are at the basis of the underdevelopment of our population. The most rapid means of remedying its criminal phenomena are to be provided eg medicines.

7. In the case of widows, the lack of tools necessary for the cultivation of vegetable crops.
8. Education: The Nkolobise Institute (Lotumbe high school) is faced with a difficulty with inadequate textbooks. The list of these documents was presented by the prefect of the said institute to Mama Lucie OTAENGA. What is the status?
9. From the standpoint of habitat, two buildings: Guest-house Lotumbe as well as the residence of the Director of the Esekama / Lotumbe primary school are in a state of notorious disrepair.

Home needs rehabilitation

This report has summarized some of the activities carried out during this quarter from January to March 2017 as well as the presentation and justification of donations received. It presents some difficulties encountered which once overcome, development will be effective.
On this basis, we propose that the visit of the development activities of Lotumbe be observed on the following axes:
- The Lotumbe Development Coordinating Office;
- FFSAEC and its accomplishments;
- Micro-credit mothers and other similar branches;
- Orphan, pygmy and disabled children;
- The work of widowed women;
- Livestock farms and fields;
- The General Hospital of Lotumbe and schools.
Here is my report for this quarterly period.
                                                                 Written at Lotumbe on 31/03/2017
                                                                 Pastor ENTONTO John
                                                                 Facilitator of Debout Lotumbe Development

PLAAC beekeeping project in Mbanza-Ngungu

A visit to PLAAC beekeeping project in Mbanza-Ngungu reaps rewards for HandUp Congo’s colleagues in Equateur Province
By Safari Kanyena, development worker for Disciples of Christ in Congo Community (“CDCC”) and advisor to HandUp Congo

Safari Kanyena

In 2016, Célestin Engelemeba and I travelled to Mbanza-Ngungu in Kongo Central Province to visit PLAAC (a cooperative of beekeeping associations), about three hours by car from Kinshasa. Mbanza-Ngungu is a city and territory in Kongo Central Province in the western part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, lying on a short branch off the Matadi-Kinshasa Railway.

Why this visit? One reason was to learn about beekeeping, and explore ways our Pygmy colleagues in Equateur Province can enhance their traditional beekeeping skills and find ways to alleviate their poverty by selling honey. Other reasons are outlined below.
The CDCC development office (called “BDC”) works in the remote equatorial forest region with rural poor communities. The latter live mainly from agriculture but just for subsistence. For earning money, they practice deforestation to produce charcoal and wood planks without any initiative of reforestation. In some villages of Ingende and Bolomba, pygmies are the poorest population whose vital needs are mainly oriented to the forest exploitation. Women and youth are also among people living with limited resources.

The basic challenge that BDC needs to face is to develop a strategy which can insure economic life of human communities without destroying the natural resources (of which the forest is one of the main earth climate stabilizers).
Regarding the Province of Equateur, BDC vision is to get a population living harmoniously and sustainably in connection with the forest. As a development local agency, BDC will be developing communities’ capacities on its traditional topics (food security, poverty reduction, environment protection…) in a perspective of gender promotion.

Then, we will need an integrated community development strategic plan which promotes the non-wood forest products (honey, edible insects, mushroom, fruit tree plantations…), so that poor communities and other less powerful populations (pygmies, women, youth) can get money from regular activities which can be organized around their villages, have a high demand in markets and whose success depend on the presence of trees.

For honey production, processing and commercialization, PLAAC is a model in the western Congo, bringing together 733 beekeepers. To get more inspiration on how we can organize a similar project in Equateur, our visit began at their office where we focused on the history of PLAAC, the cooperative organization, the techniques of capturing bees, the queen-bee raising, the process of honey processing, the beekeeper’s basic equipment, and the second step brought us into the field to give us an opportunity to see more than 30 hives, to participate in capturing bees, to collect honey etc.

Toussaint is the leader of PLAAC, which also makes bee suits and other equipment needed to harvest honey.

The second day was devoted to the future cooperation between PLAAC and the intended project of Lotumbe honey production. (Lotumbe is a remote village accessible only by canoe, and where HandUp Congo works closely with community leaders.)

Capturing bees from subsoil to a hive.
honey crop

CDCC strategy on beekeeping:
The inspiration we got from PLAAC helped us to think about a CDCC strategy which will involve:

training and working with pygmies, youth, women and pupils in poor villages bordering the forest,

promoting the planting of bee-attracting fruit trees in the target villages,

promoting the non-wood forest products,

working in local partnership with PLAAC and other potential environment protectors,

developing awareness about “the bee” (as a divine worker to perpetuate the life on the earth, through fecundation of flowers);

practicing agroforestry (combination of trees and food plants).

In short, it was a very important and impressive experience we acquired from PLAAC. Our mind was opened more again for environmental issues. The enriching discussions we got with the PLAAC leaders revealed us new ways of working together for more success.

It is a very interesting thing for the world to think about strategies worthy to perpetuate the green world where the climate is good for food production, human activities and animals’ lives. This trip showed us that, thinking green means especially thinking about the wellbeing of bees. In fact, bees are the excellent partners of this process, if they can be involved, they can play an important role in ecological restoration.

NOTE: HandUp Congo supporters made it possible for Safari and Celestin to experience this field trip to Mbanza-Ngungu. It resulted in a crowdfunding campaign which will take two PLAAC bee experts to Lotumbe in June 2017, to conduct training for the community. Thanks to donors Cynthia N, Beth F, Betsy B, Elizabeth W and Alison F for making this training excursion possible!

(a poem on a bee) – By Safari

Laisses-moi vivre, tu vivras de moi.
Tu m’entends ? Je passe, je bourdonne,
Je visite tes plantes, j’en prospecte les fleurs,
Le fruit de mon travail, je te le donne,
Pour que, plus de faim tu ne pleures,
Laisses-moi vivre, tu vivras de moi.

De la cire et du nectar, je fais le miel,
Cette nourriture aimée de tout âge,
Cet aliment que Dieu donne du Ciel,
Quand Israël reçut Canaan en partage.
Laisses-moi vivre, tu vivras de moi.

Construis-moi de bonnes ruches,
Utilises-moi et protèges ma vie,
De mon miel tu rempliras tes cruches;
Et l’argent tu ne manqueras dans ta vie.
Laisses-moi vivre, tu vivras de moi.

Ne me chasses pas, je ne suis pas ton ennemie,
Dieu m’a établi comme ton fidèle ouvrier,
Afin de vivre avec toi comme ton amie,
Et assurer que tu aies ton produit vivrier ;
Laisses-moi vivre, tu vivras de moi.

Je veux faire un pacte avec la jeunesse,
Afin de construire ensemble un monde équilibré,
Prévenir de l’humanité la grande détresse,
Et des caprices de son climat déséquilibré
Laisses-moi vivre, tu vivras de moi.

Plantes et ne coupes plus des arbres,
De fleurs tu auras mon miel et des fruits,
Toi et moi vivrons sous leur ombre,
Nous réjouissant, mangeant et buvant sans bruits.
Laisses-moi vivre, tu vivras de moi.
-by Safari Désiré Kanyena

by Safari Désiré Kanyena

Let me live, you will live by me.
You hear me? I pass, I buzz,
I visit your plants, I prospect the flowers,
The fruit of my labor, I give it to you,
For that, no more hunger you cry,
Let me live, you will live by me.

Wax and nectar, I make honey,
This beloved food of all ages,
This food God gives of Heaven,
When Israel received Canaan as a share.
Let me live, you will live by me.

Build me good hives,
Use me and protect my life,
Of my honey you will fill your pitchers;
And money you will not miss in your life.
Let me live, you will live by me.

Do not drive me away, I am not your enemy,
God has established me as your faithful worker,
In order to live with you as your friend,
And make sure you have your food product;
Let me live, you will live by me.

I want to make a pact with youth,
In order to build a balanced world together,
Preventing humanity from great distress,
And the whims of its unbalanced climate
Let me live, you will live by me.

Plant and no longer cut down trees,
Of flowers you will have my honey and fruits,
You and I will live under their shadow,
We rejoice, eating and drinking in peace.
Let me live, you will live by me

Mamas of Microcredit

A large dugout canoe expands income generating activities
for the “Mamas of Microcredit”
-By Natana Weteto (Disciples Information Bulletin)
Note: The Community of Disciples of Christ in Congo (CDCC) is a project partner of HandUp Congo. It is located in what today is the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), formerly known as Zaire, and was founded in 1889. The church has been affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States since its inception. The church functions with 26 ecclesial regions located in the provinces of Equateur, Bandundu, East Congo, Lower Congo and Kinshasa regions. Its 358 congregations serve 650,000 members. The church has 6 general hospitals, 9 maternity centers and 42 functioning health centers.

The women (called “mamas”) of Lotumbe have been working in two microcredit groups (25 and 31 members) in recent years. They have income-generating activities that allow them to save every fortnight and to borrow from these savings the money that allows them to increase their activities.

Some of the mamas celebrating the delivery of their own sales canoe.

They have just acquired a large dugout canoe that will allow them to go to markets around Boyela, Nkasa, Bompondo or even Boteka and to some extent to organize trips to Mbandaka (the provincial capital) in order to stock up on goods.

Here are some success stories:
The widow Mpongo makes handmade soap. She buys caustic soda and palm oil and thanks to her equipment purchased by credit obtained in her microcredit group, she manufactures handmade soap that she sells on the spot in Lotumbe or in the surrounding markets.

The widow Iyango goes into the forest to pick up fibrous leaves used in the kitchen to cook dishes without using pans. These sheets are very sought after because no home in Lotumbe can do without. The profits she makes enable her to meet her daily needs, but the surplus has enabled her to save money through her micro-credit group as well as to buy salt that she resells to increase her income and take charge of her grandchildren, who live with her.
Ms. Nyabitumba is a nurse at the General Reference Hospital of Lotumbe. The money she contributed to her microcredit group is being saved, and she lives only on her salary. This made it possible for her to receive credit that allowed her to buy fuel that she sells to the shops in Lotumbe. Her activity enabled her to buy a dugout canoe (in which she sits) and which she leases to individuals who go to the riverside markets in the area. This investment has allowed her to substantially increase her income and live more or less at ease.

These three examples that we wanted to share with you show that we only need to have the will to succeed.

The Supervising Pastor of Lotumbe, Rev Boyaba, enjoys geography and drew this map of the Lotumbe area. The village is accessible only by dugout canoe. It is located in the world’s second largest rainforest.

HandUp Congo Goal: to raise USD 3,500 to buy the microcredit group a Yamaha motor, to access riverside markets and sell their wares. Donations can be made online to, Project 20 2013-14, “Lotumbe Community Development” (designate “motor”). Australians receive tax deductibility.

Concert for Congo, Nov 6 2016

$7. That’s all it costs to buy a duck.
This is your day to make someone in Congo a lucky duck! Help us drum up support! See Afro contemporary dancer Lucky’s amazing leaps at the concert!

All you have to do is buy a concert ticket or make a tax deductible donation that can change the life of a Pygmy orphan in a remote village in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
There are 106 orphans in Lotumbe Village who have asked for our help to buy some ducks and fruit trees. Selling duck eggs and fruit as part of their innovative social enterprise will help these kids get to school – FINALLY! The kids are aged 6-18, and most have never gone to school – EVER. They just need a little bit of help from their friends, like:

· $ 3.50 for tuition (per year)
· $ 13.11 for school uniform
· $ 3.50 for teacher’s stipend (per year)
· $ 7 for one duck
· $ 1.50 for one fruit tree
· $ 27 for shared garden tools

Proceeds from the concert will go towards helping these kids meet their school attendance goal.

concert-for-congo_flyer_2016_nov-6Concert for Congo ticket bookings can be made on or ring Robyn on 0403 761 341.

Can’t come along to the concert? No worries! Online donations can be made to, Project 20 2013-14. Cheques may be made out to RAWCS Project 20 2013-14, and posted to RAWCS, PO Box 3168, Parramatta NSW 2124 (be sure to designate “Project 20 2013-14”).

Have questions? Please contact me on

I hope to see you at the Concert for Congo on Sunday, 6 November from 2 to 4 pm at Pitt St Uniting Church, 264 Pitt St, near Sydney Town Hall CBD.

Thank you for your support! – Lucy

Congo Week IX, October 16 – 22, 2016

banner2016Join Friends of the Congo and people worldwide for Congo Week IX. During Congo Week, a wide range of organizations throughout the globe will commemorate the millions of lives lost in the Congo conflict while showcasing Congolese culture and what Congo has contributed to the global community.

Click here to find out more about Congo Week and how you can participate.

Download the basic_facts on the Congo.