The month of August will remain engraved in the memories of the various street children of ORPER (Center of recuperation and reeducation of street children directed by the Divine Word Missionaries in Kinshasa (D.R. Congo), who have just completed their professional formation in esthetic and beauty, in cooking and gastronomy and in confection and fashion.
After one year of formation in various certified professional institutions in the capital city, the graduates did four months of practice in different institutions in Kinshasa, each in his or her own area of study. Later they were subjected to a final test organized by the inspector of social services of the municipality, so as to award them with a certificate of professional studies that will permit them to integrate into normal life in the labour world. The results of the tribunal were published in the official bulletin of the municipality.
To these professional formations, they register generally adolescents who have abandoned their secondary studies. In the same way they also offer opportunities to unfortunate boys and girls that are unable to access formal education, such as the street children. It is important to note that ORPER gives opportunities to all street children accommodated in the center, that are unable to afford primary, secondary and university education, to train themselves in professional disciplines (Modules) such as welding, mechanics, plumbing, etc. In this way, these children who are marginalized by the society have the tools necessary to incorporate themselves into the normal life without complexes.
Such as it was thought by the founder, Fr. Fran Roelants, svd in 1981, of the blessed memory, the objective of ORPER, was to make better the lives of the street children that lived in total hopelessness as a result of being rejected by the society and hence with a dark future. During that time, despite the scarcity of material and financial resources, Fr. Frank did all that was possible to educate those children that he saw capable of scholarly formation and orient others to professional training. With time, it was decided in 2009 to open some workshops for confection and fashion, esthetics and beauty, cooking and gastronomy. This way, the youth between 15 and 19 years of age have the opportunity to learn some course that permits them to integrate in the labour market. In the beginning we did not have good results, because of the 30 children that registered for those courses, only 25% completed training. The reason for this being that the majority of the children that were being oriented for the courses were adolescents that we call “Milieu Ouvert” (the street children that live on the streets), that is to say the ones who live in the streets and go to the centers to bath only. To mitigate this situation of failure, we opened a center for accommodating and taking care of them. Since we began these centers, the results have drastically improved as 90% of the youth complete their formation. This year´s graduation has been a testimony for it. About 32 adolescents registered in the various courses, of which 19 were girls, 17 have received their final formation certificate. Congratulations to all of them and to their teachers as well. We are grateful to the generosity of all the people (friends, organizations and benefactors) that support us in this very important work in bringing smiles to thousands of children in the streets of Kinshasa.
by: Fr. Alpha Mazenga, SVD