It has become a custom for us at FHA to have a summer camp; a Vacation Bible School (VBS) for youth and for children. What a wonderful time we spend with the young helpers recruited for this purpose, and with these children! It is our rendezvous of the year! A great opportunity to see all of them again! Every year we have new ones coming, but this year it was even more special because we were able to have 3 times as many children as last year and the years before, as well as twenty more teachers. A good number of new ones! A lot of excitement!
This year our camp theme was « A l’école du jeune leader congolais. » or At the Young Congolese Leaders’ School, in English. 10 days of blast and great blessing! Each day we discussed one character of a good leader and then at the ten’s day we went to visit the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Kalambo, a few miles outside Bukavu. For 1O days our children learned so much!
It was a first for the staff to train and lead such a big group of youth and children.
Our ten day program was explained and taught in « the 10 commandments of a good leader ». That’s how we decided to divide the ten lessons for the 10 days. We discussed ten characters of a good leader, the only ten that we chose to cover for this year. We formulated them as 10 oaths of allegiance, and it turned out to be a great idea. We linked each commandment with a Bible verse.
Oaths Bible Verses
- I will be humble 1. Proverbs 22:4
- I will be courageous 2. Joshua 1:6
- I will be honest 3. 1 Kings 1:52
- I will be proactive 4. Proverbs 6: 10-11
- I will be organized 5. 1 Cor. 14:40
- I will think positively 6. Mark 11:23
- I will listen 7. Proverbs 1:5
- I will work in a team 8. Ecclesiastes 4:9
- I will be a servant 9. Matthew 23: 11-12
- I will protect my environment 10. Numbers 35:34
Some of the children captured our attention in a special way!
Our little Charlotte was distinguished for her sense of cleanness. She has observed the instruction given by the teachers at the first day of the camp on taking care of our environment. Charlotte, 8 years old was a role model. She did not pass a piece of paper on the playground.
All the trash that this beautiful girl found in her way, she bended and picked it to throw it in the garbage. A courageous girl who worked hard to memorize the Bible verses and all the 10 commandments as well; Charlotte’s behavior touched all the teachers and in one accord we decided she should get a prize. SO she did!
This is another young lady; 12 years old, who came with very negative thoughts about life and everything else.
From her point of view all lawyers are dishonest and corrupt and she would not even try to do another way.
But after the day we discussed about honesty as a good leader’s charactor, she went in the front and announced to all the other children and the teachers that she will still be a lawyer but she promises that she would do her best to fight and make a difference. “I promise that I will still be a lawyer but I will never lie or be dishonest in my job! “
At first, she so much persisted in her negative opinion that when we heard her change her mind and see her willing to declare it for all of her friends to hear, it made us proud of her. Because this young lady is a very strong-willed person, we believe that she might really grow up to make a difference.
Three other children were exceptional in their work. Nicaise Mirali, King Kabesha and Amani Ndagundi. These three children discussed the first commandment about Humility in a very impressive way.
The teachers discussed the housework. Many people in our culture believe that housework is only for girls and not for boys. And guys can sit down, wait to be served and eat, watch tv, play outside, …
Nicaise, in the picture to the right with a colorful shirt, was one of the children who, at his so young age, thought and strongly supported that boys are not to work and only girls should do the housework.
King, the boy in the picture in the left, at 11 years old, was able to tell all children of his group that boys as well as girls can and should do any housework.
Amini Ndagundi, 10 years old, quoted all the Bible verses we
learned without hesitating from the first to the last day. This boy had some problems at our center in the past. He misbehaved in a way that raised our attention in a very negative way.
Our regulations being strict, we had to suspend his coming to the center for the rest of the year. He came back for VBS this year and conquered the heart of the teachers and was able to reintegrate into the homework class.
Cynthia Mulumeoderwa is a girl who has been raised by her mother alone. Apparently, her father abandonned them. At the beginning of the camp, the girl did not want anything to do with the male friends. Even the teachers. When we tried to understand the situation we were able to get the fact that she detested all males because of the absence of her father.
But a few days later, the girl was already jumping and playing with everyone with no discrimination!
The group of teenagers, 13 to 15 years old, have always been the most difficult to manage. They believe that they do not need to be instructed and that they are no longer children to be taken care of. These are the children to whom this program was meant for. A lot of work! Young teenagers are the ones who need the most to be taught these things.
Matthew 23: 11-12, our overall verse, helped us remember that the one who wants to be great should serve all the others. We noticed some positive change in these children by the end of the program. They were able to actively commit for change.
10 days of work together. 10 days of work on our future leaders. Many of us did not know each other before this and then we started becoming a family.
On the tenth day we went on a field trip where we learned about this organization that works to improve the seeds for tropical food in order to make food more nutritional for the community. A good leader has to take care of his environment. He has to take care of the land he is living on and of its cleanness, as well as the wellness of the community among which he is living.
This program is life changing for the children, but even more for the recruited young teachers who all testified of having learned very much.
Our VBS program always ends with a presentation of what the children have learned to their parents. This year again, the parents were so happy to see how their children were served!