Congo church supports school after fire

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Key Points: 

  • A fire leveled the computer laboratory at the Institut Supérieur Pédagogique in Wembonyama. The school was founded in 1982 on the initiative of United Methodist Bishop Joseph Onema Fama, who served from 1972 to 2005.
  • The fire had a major impact on the activities of the school, which specializes in teacher training. 
  • The United Methodist Church in Central Congo provided financial and material support to rebuild the school’s computer laboratory and purchase 45 computers.

The Institut Supérieur Pédagogique de Wembonyama (Wembonyama Higher Pedagogical Institute) received support from The United Methodist Church in Central Congo after a fire destroyed its computer laboratory in April.

The fire caused extensive material damage, including the complete loss of the building and much of its information technology equipment. ISP Wembonyama is a United Methodist higher education institution located in the province of Sankuru, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It specializes in teacher training.

The church has raised over $12,000 to rebuild and replace 45 laptops to equip the computer lab.

The school was founded in 1982 on the initiative of United Methodist Bishop Joseph Onema Fama, who served from 1972 to 2005. It was the first higher education and university establishment in Sankuru. Ten years after its creation, the school was recognized and taken over by the Congolese state. The buildings were constructed by American missionaries.

A fire at the Institut Supérieur Pédagogique de Wembonyama in Central Congo caused extensive damage, including the complete loss of the school laboratory and much of its information technology equipment. The United Methodist Church in Congo raised over $12,000 to rebuild the lab and replace 45 laptops. Photo by François Omanyondo, UM News. 

A fire at the Institut Supérieur Pédagogique de Wembonyama in Central Congo caused extensive damage, including the complete loss of the school laboratory and much of its information technology equipment. The United Methodist Church in Congo raised over $12,000 to rebuild the lab and replace 45 laptops. Photo by François Omanyondo, UM News.

United Methodist Bishop Daniel Lunge, Central Congo Episcopal Area, expressed delight at seeing United Methodist faithful mobilize locally to contribute to constructing the new laboratory and purchasing computers.

“What makes me so happy today,” Lunge said, “is to see the spontaneous reaction of the children of God of this United Methodist Church, who didn’t hesitate for a minute to give their financial and material contributions.”

“We are very grateful for the support of The United Methodist Church,” said Sylvain Lowolo, ISP professor and director general. “These contributions will enable us to reopen the computer lab as soon as possible.”

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“This general mobilization of United Methodists is proof enough of our unity in faith in Christ around our leader, Bishop Lunge,” added the Rev. René Djamba Shamba, ISP professor and administrative secretary.

Lowolo indicated that, in addition to the building, equipment valued at more than $52,000 was lost. This included 37 fixed computers, 22 laptops, a complete kit of satellite internet supply equipment, 10 laser printers, more than 10 software programs, two generators and five solar energy accumulators. 

The fire had a major impact as computer science students were deprived of essential resources for practical work and research.

“We were really stuck,” said Jean-Pierre Lowakondo, a business computing student. “We’re very happy that The United Methodist Church is helping us get back on our feet.”

Lowakondo said that to gain access to a computer laboratory for his research, he had to travel to Tshumbe, 31 miles away, or Lodja, 124 miles from Wembonyama.

Teachers from other colleges and universities, including the Communauté Universitaire de Wembonyama, were also denied access to internet resources.

Lunge said internet access is essential for today’s students.

The bishop also noted that the funds raised are proof that “the United Methodists of Central Congo have already internalized our message of self-reliance more than 100 years after the departure of the American missionaries who built this very building.

“We are committed to helping Institut Supérieur Pédagogique de Wembonyama become a leading higher education institution.”

François Omanyondo is a communicator in the Central Congo Conference.

UM News contact: Julie Dwyer, News Editor, [email protected] or 615-742-5469. To read more United Methodist News, subscribe to Free Daily or Weekly Digests.


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