In order to protect and support the Virunga National Park, its Director, Emmanuel de Merode, initiated a project to create hydro-electric power from various sites around the park. Without electricity, there is no way to work or develop. This project aims not only to generate vital energy to allow people to work but also to provide street lighting in order to provied a secure environment.

The Goma Virunga Alliance that was born out of this project will bring electricity to over 5 million people.

The Arete Stories Charitable Trust identified that the Goma Virunga Alliance needed support to bring the power supply to Don Bosco so engaged with a UK voluntary organisation – RE:Act Disater reponse – who had the resources to make it happen.

Through generating 105 megawatts of hydropower, the Goma Virunga Alliance also hopes to create 100 000 jobs. Today, a third of the goal has been achieved and incredibly, 9 out of 100 jobs created are filled by ex-militia. Giving them an alternate source of income, through the hydro-power project means that they no longer have to perpetuate anarchy by fighting in order to feed their families.

In 1990, Brother Salvatore, a Salesian teaching in a technical school in town, bought a piece of land for the kids to have a playground. The security situation was already deteriorating and more and more children were unable to attend school because they couldn’t afford the fees. A container was installed with some tools to allow them to learn carpentry and the orphanage and training facility grew from there.

In 1994, the centre supported many child refugees who had fled Rwanda. It was not only for apprentices anymore; it was also a place to find solace and respite from the turmoil of the surrounding conflict. Since its opening, thousands of children and teenagers have found sanctuary there, been given education and training and moved on to the outside world with valuable skills.

The Salesians always found solutions even when they were low on funds, had no electricity or  running water.

In 2019, the ACT team led ReAct UK into Eastern Congo to help them scope potential projects to support. We introduced them to the Director of Virunga National Park, Emmanuel de Merode, as well as to the Salesian Director of Don Bosco Ngangi, which is now the largest learning centre in Goma.

With the help of a generous benefactor, ReAct was able to connect the Don Bosco centre with the hydro-electric power lines that the Virunga National Park had created. At long last, Don Bosco had light!

Filling a truck to bring water to the centre every day, and running a generator is very costly. The priests who run Don Bosco were very low on money and support, as interest in the region and its ongoing cycle of violence waned. They needed to find a way to generate a reliable income for the centre as well as have regular electricity to allow the water pump to work and children to study.

By connecting a reliable power source to Don Bosco, the apprentices are able to attend classes every day. It also allows the wood and metal workshops to continue working all the time, which brings a much-needed income to the centre, allowing it to become financially independent.