GOF is answering the need for an alternative to DRCongo Orphanages
The idea for Global Orphan Foundation came to our founder, Michele Jackson, through her work with an organization that researched causes of exploitation and trafficking of women and children. She was driven to discover how they got into that situation; the answer was rooted in their families and past experiences, mostly due to poverty. Many of these women and children were forced into exploitation after coming out of orphanages homeless, hopeless, and without a path to independence.
Global Orphan Foundation grew from this experience; Michele felt compelled to find a way to help knowing that many of these children would never be adopted. GOF was designed with the desire to help those with nothing; those who are the most ‘forgotten’ and disenfranchised: children who have been orphaned.
We started small. The first few years it was just volunteers filling up suitcases of supplies and bringing goods or doing manual labor. Like a pebble thrown into a pond, GOF’s impact has had a ripple effect and has grown leaps and bounds.
Understanding the reality of DRC orphanages is essential to fully appreciating why GOF has been working toward opening Bolingo Village. DRC has a population of nearly 82 million people and is one of the poorest countries in the world. The cost of living is high, and the average income is low (around $466 per year) – the disparity is similar to earning $55,000 in the United States, but a loaf of bread costs $6,000. Life is ravaged by war, poverty, and disease leaving an estimated five million children orphaned.
Each orphanage in DRCongo is a little bit different, but in general, the conditions are dismal. The buildings are sparse and in disrepair and they are often over-crowded. There is very little furniture – some tables and plastic chairs. Orphanages do not have toys or books for the children. 80+ children often share 15 or 16 bunk beds, there is little access to clean water or flushing toilets, there are dirt floors, broken furniture and in most cases no room to run and play. These children live with little access to medical care and infrequent schooling.
"We knew that by building a village, we would really be building families, a strong community, and a reality where no child feels hungry or alone."
With infrequent government support to run the orphanages, resources such as food are not guaranteed. Most orphanages have two meals per day: tea and toast in the morning and a small meal with fufu, greens, and an insignificant portion of protein in the afternoon. As a result, children experience a high rate of severe malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies. Half of the children living in an orphanage will not make it to their fifth birthday due to poor nutrition.
The need is clear. We knew that by building a village, we would really be building families, a strong community, and a reality where no child feels hungry or alone.
With Bolingo Village we are revolutionizing the standard of care for orphaned children in Congo and providing them with all the tools to become the leaders of tomorrow. Bolingo goes beyond meeting basic needs, providing a variety of educational opportunities, consistent medical care, a loving foster family, emotional and spiritual care, and so much more. In short, a robust and abundant childhood with a bright future.
Bolingo Village is equipped to care for the resident’s basic needs:
These are all tangible things that we’ve put in place, most of which we take for granted every day – but what we really want to provide each child living at Bolingo is a future. Every child deserves a future.