By now we hope you’ve heard all about Bolingo Village (opening this March!). We’ve shared our excitement with you at every step of the planning process – and today we want to share some differences between traditional Congolese orphanages and our foster care village model.
The capital city of Kinshasa, where we have worked for 10 years, is home to over 9 million people. With 51,000 people living per square mile, space is at a high premium. Orphanages in the city are often small compounds with little room to run and play. There are rarely enough beds for the children living there, and the extreme food insecurity leaves children undernourished. Typically, there is a caregiver to child ratio of 1 to 50. These women often have kids of their own that they go home to and they earn between $75 and $150 per month.
The difference between orphanages with caregivers and foster homes with full time mothers is paramount to what we’re building at Bolingo Village; home and stability. International adoption was suspended by DRCongo’s government in 2013 and local adoptions are not common. This has left over 5 million orphaned children living in orphanages that are underfunded and filled well beyond capacity, or worse on the streets. Bolingo Village is not a stop-gap or short-term solution - Bolingo Village is home.
Our foster moms will be the rule makers and enforcers, the boo-boo kissers, the co-pilots on imagination fueled trips on space ships, and - most importantly - each child’s advocate.
Bolingo Village’s foster moms will be the pillars supporting this community. Our foster moms will be the rule makers and enforcers, the boo-boo kissers, the co-pilots on imagination fueled trips on space ships, and - most importantly - each child’s advocate. Mom’s will be a haven with trauma-informed discipline, love, and structure; where children belong, and a family bond is created.
Each foster family will have a home in Bolingo Village. Inside, each house has a living room, kitchen, Mom’s room and two kid’s rooms, with room for eight kids total. Outside each house there is a garden where the family will be able to work together to make things blossom and grow. In addition, the Village playground, community center, and soccer field will provide ample opportunities for family memories to be made. In each family children will learn how to disagree, how to make up, how to love, trust, and grow. We’re creating a support system and safety net. Providing children with a family unit of people to stand up for them and with them for the rest of their lives.