Brief Facts about Bunyakiri
Bunyakiri is in a combat “Red Zone” and has known incessant fighting for the last ten years of the ongoing conflict in the DRC. Bunyakiri is located in South Kivu Province about 77 kms north west of the city of Bukavu. It’s situated on the National Highway III, on the Bukavu - Hombo - Walikale - Kisangani axis, going through the Kahuzi-Biega National Park. It covers an area of approximately 3,572 square km with a population estimated at 141,500. Its climate is tropical with wet season (November to March), and dry season (April to October).
There are 2 major chiefdoms in the territory of Kalehe (Buloho and Buhavu) administrating 11 groupings. The major commercial centers are Bitale, Fumya, Miowe, Bulambika, Maibano, Karasi, Kando, Kambali, Kambegete, Hombo, Tushunguti, and Ramba. The area is very mountainous and the smaller villages are reachable only on dirt paths. Mobile phones do not work in the area, so communication is very limited. There are few main roads, all are unpaved and tend to wash out in the rainy seasons.
There is only one hospital, and 27 small healthcare centers serving the entire region. Most of these centers are under equipped, lack essential medicines, have no electricity, nor clean water.
Fondation Père Simone (FPS)
Bunyakiri is one of the regions in Eastern Congo that has been hardest hit by the decade long war. The length and magnitude of the fighting has left wrenching marks in the area. It was in this environment that Sister Clothilde Bikafuluka created Fondation Père Simone (FPS) in 2004 with the goal of reducing the suffering of the Parish’s vulnerable populations.
Since then, FPS activities have been two folded: 1) helping small farmers; and 2) taking care of orphans and rape survivors. Up to this point FPS has received minimal funding from MONUC, the Czech NGO “People in Need” and personal donations, yet has accomplished the following:
- Provides housing for 85 displaced women rape survivors and their children (numbering 150+);
- Created a Sewing Center that trains about 90 women weekly;
- Creation of a Soap Factory that trains women and girls;
- Has opened in Kando an Adult Education Center that annually teaches about 40 women how to read and write;
- Caring for about 321 children orphaned by the war;
- Farms four acres (cassava, corn, peanuts, and potatoes) to help feed those in its care.
People in Need is the largest organization in the Czech Republic providing international relief aid and development assistance. In 2008 they launched their program in the DR Congo and began traveling regularly to Bunyakiri bringing funding and supplies for the village’s clinic and medical dispensary and helping Sister Clothilde build housing for dozens of women and children in the Parish who have been displaced by war and sexual violence.