Table of Contents
A Word From Puma
Poleni Village School
Nursing School and
Clinic at Poleni
TUSEME - Girls Empowerment
School Supplies Enterprise
Able and Willing
Elects Vice President
Volunteers for Able and
"Why I Choose Able &
Puma's Kitchen - Benefit Dinners***
- Frederick, MD: May 17
- Lakewood, NJ: May 23
How You can Help
Make a Donation!
Life is a challenge and every day that I wake up, breathe fresh air, see the
sun rise, I know that I will face many issues, both easy and hard. My hope is to
live through the day, to be blessed with the wisdom to make good decisions, and
to sleep well and peacefully that night with the hope of seeing another day.
Friends, lately I have been dealing with difficult times on several fronts –
new forces and often disruptive forces at work in the Congo in general and at
the Myrt schools in particular, as well as new challenges in my personal life,
including job uncertainty and financial and other fallout from that. In many
respects I cannot avoid these difficulties nor control their outcome, but I can
and will commit to giving my best to finding the best solutions.
As to the situation in the Congo, the war in the northeast is still going on
and the suffering of the people continues. More and more people are migrating
from the areas of conflict to seek peace and work in other regions of the Congo.
Lubumbashi in particular is flooded with refugees from war torn areas. I know
many in the U.S. may be jaded by what they hear and see from an impersonal
distance on radio or television. But for me, that is home and those are my
people of my own blood. Sometimes it is difficult to sleep as I stay up thinking
about what can be done to end the calamity, about what I can do to ease it just
a little. While so many are migrating into my home region in the Congo, the jobs
they are seeking are disappearing as the local mines close. The source of so
much hope as a basis for development in southeastern Congo, these mines are
closing due to the global economic crisis.
This crisis has hit home hard at the Myrt schools, creating some of the most
difficult challenges we have ever faced. In a word, school revenues are way down
because fewer and fewer parents can afford even Myrt’s small tuition fees.
Enrollment is therefore also down. For the past three months, the schools have
struggled to pay staff their full salaries. Some have taken advances against
their future salaries as they struggle to keep the schools up and running.
But, as Baden Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts said in his book about the
road to success, “les difficultes sont les selles de la vie” (loosely translated
as, difficulties are the spice of life) and “together we can change our world.”
In this vein, Able and Willing will implement a furniture building and leasing
project this year through WaMbuyu Tech, which we hope will both educate students
in practical skills, and also generate another source of income for the school,
relieving it of its total dependency on income from the students’ monthly fee.
Again, let me thank you from my heart for your continuing support and
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We Need $70,000 for This 2 Year Project
| Brick laying at Poleni
(Click picture to enlarge)
In 2008 AWIEF funded and organized the construction of a building with two
classrooms in the village of Poleni, about 6 kilometers from our original Myrt
School campus. The building accommodates up to 60 students in the first and
There are now 40 students enrolled from five neighboring villages that were
previously without schools. The Poleni School is already self supporting.
By 2010 we plan to more than double the capacity to provide education through
the sixth grade. The villagers will begin making the sunbaked adobe bricks in
early June. They should be ready to start construction when Mbuyu arrives in
July to oversee construction.
Boy Scouts & Girl Scouts Help and Learn
| Girl Scouts at Myrt School
(Click pictures to enlarge)
As usual, the Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops from Myrt School will be
working in exchange for their tuition for the next school year along with the
parents of other students in the Work For Tuition Program.
The Scouts will be camping on the Poleni School grounds in the tents that we
shipped last year and cook their bukari over open campfires. These conditions
are not all that different from the home life of most of the students. A typical
family lives in a two room, grass thatched house, sleeps on bedding that is
rolled up during the daytime and cooks outside over small charcoal fires.
In addition to helping to build the school, making door and window frames and
school furniture, the Scouts will participate in extra curricular science and
literary projects. Last year, they reconstructed and labeled the bones of a goat
and a rooster, performed their own one act plays, practiced their English, and
wrote articles for the school newsletter. By the time they graduate, these
Scouts will have the knowledge, technical skills, civic values and personal
integrity to effect positive changes in their communities.
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We Need $40,000 for This 2 Year Project
Lack of even the most basic health facilities are a big problem in the DRC,
particularly for the outlying villages around Lubumbashi. Last year there was an
outbreak of cholera in Lubumbashi caused by contaminated drinking water.
Malaria, HIV/AIDS and other diseases continue to be a problem. These diseases
can easily be treated or even prevented with proper care.
Last year, Mbuyu began discussions with the medical department at the
University of Lubumbashi to set up a nursing program at Myrt School. This year
we are planning to set up some teaching and health care facilities on the Myrt
Campus at Poleni village. The facilities would serve four neighboring villages
that do not have health care facilities.
already has preliminary building plans for the clinic and classrooms and priced
out all of the materials. We are fortunate to have Priya Rednam volunteer to
review the plans the facilities and training program. She is a medical training
officer at Fort Detrick with experience in setting up small community clinics in
Iraq. The medical department at the University of Lubumbashi will provide the
teaching staff and curriculum.
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We Need $2,000 for This Project
We are VERY proud of the computer lab at MYRT. It has grown, and with over 40
work stations it has become an integral part of the school education.
The Next Step.
In order to realize its full potential, the lab needs to be connected to the
internet. This would allow access to all sorts of educational material, provide
better communication with Able & Willing volunteers in the U.S., and could
facilitate an exchange program between Myrt School and a sister school in the
U.S. After school hours it could serve as a cyber café for the growing community
and earn extra income for the school. The demand around Lubumbashi for Internet
access is huge. Cyber cafes are full all day long.
The technology to connect to the Internet has improved since the first
laptops were installed in 2002 and the cost has dramatically decreased, from
$10,000 in 2005 to about $1,000 today. Monthly fees would about equal what we
now pay for telephone calls between the U.S. and DRC. The time is right to be
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We Need $13,000 for This Ongoing Program
In most of Africa, females are traditionally discouraged from speaking out
about the conditions and pressures that affect their lives. For those girls
fortunate enough to attend school, early pregnancy, dropping out, and sexual
harassment or abuse are commonplace due in large measure to this age-old
tradition of remaining silent.
“Let’s Speak Out”
TUSEME (pronounced too-semee) is a Swahili expression whose English
equivalent is “Let’s Speak Out’. It is also the name of a theater-based girl’s
outreach and empowerment program developed at the University of Dar es Salaam,
Tanzania in 1996. TUSEME was created to redress the poor academic performance of
girls in secondary schools after research had shown the link between
low-achievement of girls and their inability to express themselves when faced
with societal pressures, such as the pressure to engage in sexual activity at a
young age or to drop out of school rather than graduate. The TUSEME project
trains girls to express their views publicly in matters that affect their
academic and social development, and to take an active role in finding
Training for empowerment
|These girls at Myrt School would benefit from TUSEME
Our goal is to bring two TUSEME trainers with the Forum for African Women
Educationalists from Tanzania to the Myrt School for a week-long training. They
will not only train the girls enrolled at Myrt and their teachers to carry on
the activities, but also girls in the wider community so that the language and
habits of empowered expression can really catch on. The cost of this program is
inclusive of all fees, materials, transportation, and lodging. Able and Willing
believes that adding this quality program for girls not only improves the
chances for their achievement in school, but also improves the chances that the
girls of future generations will finally be able to speak out - to have a say in
the matter of their own lives.
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We Need $10,000 More for This Ongoing Project
This year we plan to implement an enterprise run by Myrt School in Congo that
will benefit other schools in the Lubumbashi area, generate income for WaMbuyu
Tech, and teach skills to students. The idea is to have students produce student
desks in the workshops at WaMbuyu Tech for use in other schools for a small
monthly rental fee.
All schools in DRC, both private and public, are essentially small businesses
whose revenue comes from student tuition. Like other businesses in developing
countries, schools lack the capital to invest in their infrastructure, lack
access to credit, a reliable bank, or other means to accumulate enough cash to
purchase desks, or other basic school equipment. Worse yet, what is available on
the market is expensive and does not last long. Discussions with directors of
large schools in Lubumbashi, none of which have student desks, have confirmed
the situation. Some directors indicated that they could absorb the costs of some
school improvements if there were a way of spreading out the cost through a
Last year we collected, through purchases and donations, over $22,000 worth
of equipment for our school workshops. The equipment was shipped and installed
in our workshops. Our next phase puts that new equipment to use.
|Myrt students will soon be using power tools and
machines shipped last year to make furniture for Congolese schools.
First, our technical students will acquire the necessary skills and build the
desks in our school workshops. Second, our school will extend credit to other
schools so they can rent or buy them on an affordable monthly payment and
maintenance plan. We believe that our school can make quality desks and other
basic school equipment and offer them on affordable terms to many other schools
in the region.
At the end of 3 years, initial funding plus profits from this project could
buy material to make desks for over 3,000 students while investing an amount of
equal value in other projects. This will maximize last year’s investment in our
|Desks made at WaMbuyu Tech for school in Poleni.
The evaluation will be done as part of the project management process, not as
a formal academic exercise which would be less cost effective. Our criteria:
- A reasonable rate of return on our investments.
- Our students will learn skills that help them get jobs or start
- The percent of students who get jobs or start their own business.
- Percentage of prompt payments vs. the percentage of defaulted contracts.
- Visible improvement in the classrooms of schools.
The cost of the new shop machinery and the shipping expenses was mostly
funded by a generous grant from the Five Together Foundation.
Many other people donated electrical and hand tools, tents, sewing machines,
bicycles, computers and other equipment. Mbuyu donated a new
40KW diesel generator. A special thanks is due to the Washington
International School for the donation of 60 Dell desktop computers.
Most of the funds to buy startup material for making desks came from the
St. Andrew’s Benevolent Committee, a program of a Lutheran congregation
in Minnesota. They became aware of our work in Congo through a former Peace
Corps volunteer in their congregation and invited us to apply for a grant.
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Rebecca Rowles has been working in the field of international development since
1988, when she served as a volunteer for the Peace Corps in Mali, West Africa.
Her passion for promoting education in the developing world came about while
working for the U.S. Agency for International Development in Mali, where she
first became aware of the high illiteracy rates of most African countries—with
statistics soaring near 80% of the adult population.
|Rebecca Rowles is now Vice President of AWIEF
Having worked at both international and national level agencies in her field,
Rebecca finds great satisfaction in her volunteer work for Able and Willing. In
her words, “my work with Able and Willing allows me to do exactly what I’ve been
preparing for all these years: to work with the people I want to serve to find
immediate and sustainable solutions for getting kids in school. International
development that begins from the ground up.” Her goal is to continue to help
develop Able and Willing’s capacity to grow into a dynamic and thriving
organization and reach more kids.
Rebecca currently works in Washington, DC, for the Department of Labor in
international trade and labor affairs. She holds a BA in English from Barnard
College and an Ed.M. from Harvard. She resides with her husband and daughter in
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It would be difficult to thank everyone who makes our work possible but
several people deserve special mention for their help this year.
Thanks to Richard Griffin (from Frederick, MD) for guiding
our board through a planning and improvement process. Richard has plenty of
experience as the Director of Economic Development for the City of Frederick.
Thanks to Sam Cincotta (from Brunswick, MD) for his lessons
and help in media relations. Sam has years of experience in media relations at
the Pentagon and is now starting his own consulting firm.
Thanks to James England (from Boonsboro, MD) for translating
our Fall 2008 Newsletter into French. It is now on our new web site.
Erica Chapman (student at Hood College) and the Hood
Gospel Choir for their performance at our fall benefit dinner.
Several talented people have recently volunteered for a variety of tasks,
ranging from web site design to designing small clinics.
Our critical need is for legal advice and accounting.
Please visit our redesigned web site for more information on how you can help:
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Sometimes life chooses extraordinary people to bear an extraordinary burden.
And sometimes, out of that experience comes an understanding of the bigger
picture that clarifies and quiets the noise of our daily shuffle. For one donor,
the commitment to Able & Willing permits a connectedness to a world and web of
relationships that transcend her own life.
Robie lives by a personal philosophy that we are not alone. We are all part
of the web of life, weaving our own threads among the many, shaping this web,
creating connections with others that may be life affirming or not, intentional
or not, causing ripples that extend beyond awareness or even one’s own
mortality. And so, even when we feel weak and the work is hard and thankless, we
must remember our obligation to ourselves and to posterity to act in the
knowledge that we are part of an eternal whole.
Robie Sangster met Jim Carpenter and Puma while working at the Bureau of
Labor Statistics in the 1990s. She has remained a faithful
supporter ever since.
As she faces the late stages of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), Robie has found
peace in the words she first crafted a decade ago. The lives that Robie has
helped us to touch ensure that her own threads will remain among the living
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Dinner to Benefit Education in Africa
Presentation of AWIEF Projects
Mbuyu “Puma” Wa Mbuyu, Founder, AWIEF
|Sunday, May 17, 2009
4 pm - 7 pm
Way Station, Inc.
230 W. Patrick St.
Frederick, MD 21701
|Saturday, May 23, 2009
Event starts at 4pm
Hope Presbyterian Church
617 Hope Chapel Road
Lakewood, N.J. 08701
We are proudly serving:
Pepe Soup (Beef Stew), Pilipili (Hot Sauce),
other African meat, seafood & veggie dishes.
Suggested donation is $35 (or whatever you can
We would love to meet you and share ideas.
If you can’t attend, please send donations to
AWIEF, PO Box 4303, Frederick, MD 21701
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We rely on help from our ever expanding network of friends. You can
make a donation over the web or via mail.
Also, check with your employer about a donation matching program that could
multiply your help.
Even if you can't give money, you could help to spread the word of our
mission and accomplishments. You may belong to a civic organization or
church that is looking for effective ways to help less fortunate people in other
countries. If you need additional information for your organization, give
us a call (301-685-3282) or email:
For additional ways that you can help, visit our web site page
How You Can Help
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Help needed to keep construction going on new schools.
With most of our current budget invested in the various workshops that will
keep MYRT School afloat and keep kids in school, we desperately need money to
continue the school construction projects in Poleni and Kipopo villages.
The parents in these villages are able and willing to work on building the
schools. Won’t you help by investing in the start up costs?
With your help, our long standing aim - to build self-supporting, quality
schools that can produce human and financial resources to build more schools –
is coming to fruition, despite these hard times. This is the way to break the
demoralizing and self perpetuating chain of dependency on foreign aid.
Two ways to donate. Either way, you can make a gift
donation in the name of a friend and we'll send them an acknowledgment.
Willing International Education Foundation, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit,
non-religious, all volunteer run organization.
All contributions are
For a copy of the current financial statement of AWIEF,
please write to: AWIEF, P.O.Box 4303, Frederick, MD 21705
Call: (301) 685 - 3282 Email: