Partnerships in education - SPRING 2021
A Strong Congo Through Education
Canadian eye doctors support new Congolese ophthalmologist with donation—and delivery—of essential diagnostic equipment!
Call sounded for diagnostic equipment
Early in 2020, Education Congo received a newsletter from Dr. Tim Rice, the medical director of Vanga Hospital, sharing the great news that a recently trained local Congolese ophthalmologist, Dr. Jean Aime, would be opening an eye clinic in Vanga. An appeal was then made for a much-needed Slit lamp, which is the key tool for diagnosing eye disease (essentially a special microscope with a bright light used during an eye exam).
Juliet Lev, a retired operating room nurse from Toronto, Canada, heard about this appeal through Education Congo and reached out to a retired ophthalmologist she knew. He in turn contacted an old friend and ophthalmologist, Dr. Colin Mailer, who lives in London, Ontario, a 2.5-hour drive away. Colin had retired in September 2019, after 50 years of service to his community, and had brought his trusty Slit lamp home to store in his basement! Without hesitation, he generously offered to donate his Haag Streit Slit lamp (one that he had owned since opening his office in 1968) to the Vanga clinic. Caught up in enthusiasm, he also phoned a nearby retired friend who had two more Slit lamps plus a retinoscope to donate!
But how to get the equipment to Vanga?
In early March, just prior to the arrival of COVID-19, Juliet and her husband drove out to London to meet Dr. Mailer and Dr. Don Mills and to collect the large, heavy items of diagnostic equipment. Then COVID-19 took over the world, and all travel and transportation ground to a halt. Fortunately, Dr. Tim Rice and his wife managed to return to St. Louis, Missouri, getting out on one of the last flights from Congo before the lockdown.
First Slit lamp already in operation!
Following months of COVID-19 restrictions, Dr. Rice and his wife were finally able to return to Congo on August 29th. One Slit lamp stand, and one Slit lamp were carefully packed into bike boxes and sent by DHL from Toronto to St. Louis, so that he could take them as ”excess baggage” on the return flight. It is gratifying to know that the Slit lamp and stand arrived safely in Vanga in September 2020 and are already set up and being used.
The other two travel via cargo container
A Congolese Canadian, Aime Bukaka, very kindly accepted the remaining two Slit lamps and stands, plus retinoscope to be included in his shipping container headed for Kinshasa. He was also willing to be there to receive them and deliver them to the local mission. We’ve just heard that everything has just arrived in Kinshasa!
Through reaching out, and with caring and generous donors, this essential and invaluable equipment is finding a new life in Vanga to serve the population of Kwilu Province.
Book by the late Paul Olson
benefits Education Congo
We are excited to
announce the publication
of Nestlings: Stories of
Expatriate Life in Africa,
edited by Paul’s wife
Margie Warner Olson
and Joyce E. Danielson.
All proceeds from the
sale of Nestlings will be
donated to Education Congo, an organization that
was close to his heart. He also served on our board
Paul’s stories offer rich insights about growing up
in Africa and the struggles of missionary life, with
a rich cast of ex-pats and others, including “A
Perfect Embassy Wife” who is struggling to keep
her marriage together. Paul’s collection of stories
is a must-read for anyone who has ever lived in
The book is available in paperback or Kindle eBook. Order online from Amazon or Barnes &
Distance learning at UPC Partners with Rotary
Mimi Kanda and Linda James
Professor Patrick Bakengela (left)
demonstrating the distance learning
program to the Minister of Higher
Education Mr. Thomas Luhaka
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit last March, and universities in Congo suspended classes,
UPC took a very proactive approach. Vice President Dr. Samuel Mampunza established a
multidisciplinary steering committee to develop UPC’s capacity in the area of distance learning.
No students and no classes (virtual or face-to-face) would lead to academic, social and economic
challenges for the University, its students and its faculty. The survival of the University hinged on a
distance-learning platform that would ensure the health and safety of all.
Building off of UPC’s solid, basic IT infrastructure, which includes a campus network system, a
functioning server, surge protection and an uninterrupted power source through the use of solar
panels and a wind turbine, the steering committee got to work. Through the efforts of committee
members Prof. Marcel Musangu, Prof. Patrick Bakengela, Prof. Esther N’Landu, Prof. Ernest Sumaili,
Prof. Jonathan Bashi and network administrator, Mr. Andy Kawaya, among others, an online
teaching platform was implemented through Moodle and Jitsi. By the summer of 2020, some
courses had already gone online.
This Rotary partnership project aims to reinforce the work that UPC has already begun—the
development of online teaching tools, training in the specific technology and the launch of a
campus intranet. This collaboration of time, talent and treasure is powerful and includes the
commitment of the Rotary Club of Kinshasa-Binza.
Thanks to Education Congo board members and their respective Rotary Clubs: Mimi Kanda
at the Rotary Club of Washington DC, Margaret Loewen at the Rotary Club of Lamar,
Colorado and Ernie Ross at the Rotary Club of Billings, Montana.
Education Congo on Facebook
Cynthia Decker & Amini Kajunju
Do you have a Facebook page? Do your parents, children, grandchildren, cousins and friends? So
does Education Congo! It is a great way to connect not only with donors to Education Congo but
also the students, faculty and family of the Congo Protestant University (UPC), the Evangelical University
for Africa (UEA) and other affiliated institutions.
Recent popular posts have included a video on how UPC is handling the pandemic, articles on an
African technology summit, resilience in African universities and our latest newsletters.
We recently took a look at our FB page to see who is connecting with us. Here is what we found. The
first post on the Education Congo FB page was Nov. 27, 2010. Currently, our followers are 62%
men and 38% women. Most followers are in the age 25-34 range with the next largest group older
than 65. Our followers are distributed across many countries but 80% are from Kinshasa, with smaller
percentages from North America, Europe and other African countries.
We will continue to post content about our organization, our affiliate universities and the
achievements and activities of the students and faculty for our donors and other interested parties.
If you have already “liked” our page or are a “follower,” please encourage others to do so. Let us
know what you like now and what you would like to see in the future.