Congo gained independence from France in 1960 and later became the first communist country in Africa. Since then, it has been troubled by coups and revolutions, leading to a civil war that still continues in a sporadic manner.
This chronic instability means that Congo is a contradiction. Despite the country’s enormous wealth of resources, more than 50% of Congolese people live below the poverty line. The current government — in power for over 30 years now — continues to invest more in the army than in education or in support for the weaker sections of the population.
The most tragic result of these policies can be seen in the miserable conditions in which many “invisible” children live, deprived of their rights, and forced to make their way on the street.
Franciscans in Congo
The Franciscans returned permanently as missionaries to Congo in 1920. In 1991 they founded a fraternity in the capital, Brazzaville, and a few years later, established a community of welcome for young people which hosts about 70 children.
Over the years, a Poor Clare convent and two formation houses for postulants and novices were established.
Their new challenge is the construction of Santa Chiara School in Djiri. This secondary school will be a place where the street children can get the professional qualifications they need to find a job and build a decent future.