New Kiwanis club in Africa brings fresh hope to kids 

New Kiwanis club in Africa brings fresh hope to kids 

The Kiwanis Club of Goma has already helped with school supplies and psychological support for kids dealing with trauma.

By Julie Saetre
Submitted by the Kiwanis Club of Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Africa 

In the city of Goma, nestled in the south of North Kivu province in the Democratic Republic of Congo, stories of war, conflict and volcanic eruptions have become an omnipresent backdrop in the lives of its residents. It is in this challenging context, where hope sometimes seems a rare commodity, that Paluku Mathe Patrick decided to sow the seeds of a better future.

Deeply rooted in his community, Paluku had witnessed the immense challenges Goma faced. Since his childhood, he had seen his city ravaged by armed conflicts and families displaced by the eruptions of Nyiragongo. Most important, he had seen the most vulnerable — children — pay the heaviest price. They were often deprived of their fundamental rights, their education, their safety and their innocence.

Something had to be done, he decided, to transform his frustration into action and his despair into hope. This is how he learned about Kiwanis International, which offered an opportunity and a light at the end of the tunnel. After researching Kiwanis and contacting members of the organization, he realized that it could be the ideal platform for change. So Paluku began the process of chartering a Kiwanis club in Goma.

It wasn’t simple. It required convincing skeptics, overcoming bureaucratic obstacles and mobilizing limited resources. But, determined, Paluku gathered a group of like-minded individuals ready to invest their time, skills and energy in the cause of serving children.

In February 2024, the Kiwanis Club of Goma was officially chartered, driven by a collective dream of protection and support for the community’s youngest. The club’s first projects were modest but significant: distribution of school supplies, organization of recreational days and implementation of psychological support programs for children traumatized by violence and natural disasters.

“The children of Goma are beginning to smile and dream again,” Paluku says. “Parents see hope reborn, and the community has begun to rebuild around a shared vision of solidarity and resilience.

“The Kiwanis Club of Goma is a beacon of hope in a region often plunged into darkness. It reminds everyone that, even in the darkest moments, there is always a possible light if we choose to ignite it.”