Welcome back, Lema!

Pasifique, Lema, Amani, Prince, and friend’s baby Karen

Lema Shamamba: educator and  film-maker

We have mentioned Lema Shamamba and her family before in our newsletter- they are good friends of ours – and Lema has become a community leader in Ranui, with support from Ranui Action Project staff.  Lema decided this year to return to the DR Congo to visit her family, whom she has not seen for 15 years, and to check on the progress of the Amani Centre, which began as the Amani Orphanage but has been taking on expanded roles with rape victims and economic development as well as looking after orphaned children and supporting their education.  While she was there she made three films about life in her village, Bweremana, and beyond, to use as resources with Congolese children growing up in New Zealand, and with other interested groups.

Sister Maureen (right) with Dada (a member of W.H.O)., her husband Veve and children

When she returned safely (to everyone’s great relief- the situation in the DR Congo is still dire and dangerous) we organised a “welcome back” function for her at Earthsong.  Helped by several Earthsong neighbours and members of W.H.O. (Women of Hope: Helping Ourselves – the group of refugee women drawn together by Lema) we provided a Friday night meal on 27 October, and then Lema showed two of the films she had made, on education, and the economy.  These gave us a real insight into the progress being made in the village, and the ongoing need for support for the cost of education for young people – there is no government support for schooling – and also for new commercial programmes for the sale of local produce like bananas, and development of new activities like rabbit farming.

Lovely to have all three of Lema’s children at the function too: Prince, who has completed his building apprenticeship and just graduated with his Certificate in Building and Construction;  Amani, who will be in her final year of Nursing Studies at Unitec next year, and Pasifique, who has applied for entry to the School of Architecture at the University of Auckland for 2018.

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