Progress made on the Wisconsin School in the CongoNine days of hard manual labor under a hot African sun paid off in a feeling of accomplishment for members of Hudson’s Harvestime Outreach Church.
By: Randy Hanson, Hudson Star-Observer
Nine days of hard manual labor under a hot African sun paid off in a feeling of accomplishment for members of Hudson’s Harvestime Outreach Church.
The group, working alongside local men, was able to lay concrete floors and build block walls for three classrooms in the long-awaited Wisconsin School.
The school, located on the outskirts of Kinshasa, the sprawling capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, is the dream of Bishop John Bofata.
Bofata has been a friend of Harvestime Outreach Church since a visit to Hudson over the Christmas holiday of 2002, when he spent some time as a houseguest of Peter and Lori Bernard.
Bofata pastors a church that cares for a large number of orphans. His goal is to build a school the orphans can attend free of charge, and that will provide an education for other children in the community as well.
The foundation for the Wisconsin School was laid about six years ago, but the work has proceeded haltingly due to a lack of funding.
Close to $40,000 was raised for the project prior to the latest trip by Harvestime members. It was used to hire local workers and buy construction materials.
Peter Bernard spent two weeks in Kinshasa ahead of the other Harvestime members making arrangements for the project.
On May 19, Pastor Randy Simonson, ministry intern Jude McClure and church members Quinn Erickson, Dave Glasspoole and Lance and Amy Parendo traveled to the Congo. They were accompanied by two old friends of Simonson’s — Dan Eastvold of Puerto Rico and Dennis Posterick of Pittsburgh, Kan.
The group, except for the Parendos, stayed with Bishop Bofata and his family. They traveled three miles to the construction site each day, walking part of the way.
Simonson said there isn’t a road to the school and materials and water had to be carried in by hand, slowing the construction.
Local women were hired to bring water to the site from a river below. They carried it in jugs they balanced on their heads, and were paid $5 for filling a 50-gallon drum.
Bishop Bofata hired local men to help with the construction. They were paid $5 to $7 a day.
The cement blocks and mortar were made on site. Because of the lack of tools and electricity it took nine days to accomplish what they might have gotten done in a day or two in the United States, Simonson said.
While labor is cheap in the Congo, the price of fuel and materials is similar to here in the United States, which is why the construction has proceeded so slowly.
Peter and Lori Bernard have established a non-profit organization to raise money for Bofata’s ministry, including construction of the school.
You can learn more about the ministry at www.bethesdarelief.org.