This is the part of the Umoja Journey where you’ll build some of your best memories.
Since 2009, David has served as the CEO of International Needs Canada (IN), a non-denominational Christian development organization that focuses on the empowerment of vulnerable children and women. The Umoja Journey takes you to IN’s humanitarian projects in education, health, clean water, agriculture, and social justice.
David’s hope is that you will be inspired by the amazing people you meet, and discover a sense of purpose for your own life. Many past participants have become long-term supporters after the Umoja Journey was done. For many, it was just the beginning.
The Safe HouseKenya
The Kawangware Slum is home to more than 130,000 people, where residents live under the grip of extreme poverty that makes life a constant struggle to survive. For children and youth, the situation is particularly dire, and many of them turn to ‘street work’ as a way of escaping life at home. Girls are often forced into the sex trade, and many boys join gangs to get the sense of belonging they lack at home. These children quickly learn that life on the streets is violent and unsafe, yet with few other choices, their decisions lead them directly into the cycle of poverty.
The RHYCO Safe House and Drop-In Centre serves as a drop-in centre for up to 70 children and a safe house for up to 20. Run by the Real Hope Youth Community Organization (RHYCO), a local child welfare organization, the centre gives children a safe place away from the dangers of the street and the abuses of home life. They are also able to attend school, have access to meals and baths, and are also taught the importance of caring relationships based on trust, respect, and honesty. Parents are also educated with knowledge and skills to help re-socialize and reintegrate abandoned and vulnerable children back into the family unit and community.
Joyful Hearts CentreKenya
Given the lack of access to medical care in Kawangware, complications during the birthing process often result in children developing cerebral palsy. These children are particularly disadvantaged in Kenya, where there’s widespread ignorance of people with disabilities. Many parents of children with cerebral palsy want to provide the proper care but can’t afford to; they have no choice but to keep their children at home while they go out to find work.
The Joyful Hearts Centre (JHC) provides community-based rehabilitation for children. Operating in RHYCO’s safe house compound, JHC is run by a special education teacher and gives families a place where their children can receive physiotherapy, feeding, cleaning, social stimulation, and other important development services. The children stay on the compound five days a week, allowing families to find work without having to leave their children at home.
Just outside the city of Solwezi, subsistence farmers lead lives of quiet desperation huddled in squalid clusters of makeshift huts. The farmers in the villages of Kambeu, Muzabula, and points in between plant whatever will grow around their huts to feed themselves. Their children—many of whom are HIV/AIDS orphans being raised by aunts, uncles, and grandparents—are especially vulnerable. For years, they had no prospects for even basic education: there were no schools for miles around.
The ZACTS School for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (ZACTS OVC) opened in January 2012 with 3 classrooms and 60 students. Today, ZACTS OVC has grown to include 9 classrooms, a kitchen, washrooms, and a playground, and supports more than 1000 students! The school also grows vegetables and raises livestock to help supplement the children’s dietary needs and fund their academic programs.
Clinique PapillonLubumbashi, DR Congo
Lubumbashi is the second largest city in the DR Congo, with a population of over 1.3 million people. Despite being a hub of commercial activity, decades of civil war, conflict, and poverty have posed many challenges for this country. Over the last 15 years, it is estimated that 6 million people have died as a result of war, preventable diseases, and malnutrition. Women are particularly vulnerable in the DRC, and face gender imbalances in the areas of economic, social, cultural, and political development.
Clinique Papillon was established in 2010 and serves hundreds of vulnerable Congolese women every year. The clinic specializes in childbirth services and the care of women during pregnancy, delivery, and recovery. For women recovering from the trauma of rape, the clinic offers healing and hope. While the clinic is known for its service to pregnant women and new mothers, they also serve the sick from all backgrounds.
Ephphata SchoolLubumbashi, DR Congo
Congolese children with hearing loss suffer great stigma due to a lack of understanding in their culture. The deaf are often perceived by their families and society to be unintelligent and worthless; as a result, many are rejected and left to fend for themselves.
The Ephphata School for the Deaf provides a safe haven where more than 250 children of all ages receive a quality education, vocational training, nutritious food, and a sense of self-worth. The program offers reading, writing, sign language, math, sciences, arts, sports, sewing and carpentry. The school also grows their own food, farms animals and fish in order to give their students a healthy diet.