Visit of Father Arturo Sosa to the Bishop Munzihirwa’s Center, Kinshasa, DRC.
“The Society of Jesus wants, with an ardent desire, to walk with young people towards a future full of hope”. This is the challenge that the Bishop Munzihirwa’s Center (CMM) faces in supervising and training both street children and unemployed young people. On Wednesday, 24 April, Fr Stanislas Kimpeye gave a presentation to Father General and the Provincials of the Conference of Africa and Madagascar, who are accompanying him, on the project he heads. He emphasized the links between the CMM’s aims and two of the Society’s apostolic preferences: walking with the excluded and journeying with youth.
Focusing on street workers, the CMM targets children and young people who have been left on their own. There are an estimated 25,000 “street children” in Kinshasa. The CMM program offers them transitional housing for up to one year. Depending on individual needs, literacy, psychological support, school reintegration, and vocational training are also offered. Spiritual activities, inspired by the Gospels and the Spiritual Exercises, promote discernment, and feature in the accompaniment plan.
The CMM seeks to restore in street children, a renewed momentum, a joy, and a desire to live again. This is only possible because of the commitment the team of about twenty social educators bring to their work every day. There are many obstacles, because young people are pushed onto the streets by poverty, and the unhappy circumstances of their families; they feel rejected, and it is not always easy to reach them. A central aim remains family reintegration, either into the biological family, or the extended family. Resuming contact with the family is often a viable solution, but it requires good preparation, and effective post-reunification follow-up remains crucial.
When he was invited to speak, Father Sosa departed from his prepared text, and spoke directly to the staff, but especially to the young people. He did so in Spanish, with the help of an interpreter. He told them how happy he was to meet them in the heart of this popular neighbourhood of Kinshasa. Referring to the name of the Centre - Bishop Munzihirwa - Father General stressed how much this Jesuit bishop, murdered in Bukavu because of his commitment to the poor, would be proud to be associated with this mission dedicated to the young people. He promised to remember the young people and the team of educators in his prayers. He received a gift, a wooden sculpture representing two young people, on which was engraved: “Father Arturo Sosa, pray for the children of the CMM.”