Team members Leigh Shepherd and Delaney Pavy Hart met with the district president at the site of the 20,000 bricks. Photos courtesy of Friendly Planet Missiology

The bricks gave them the hope that one day in the future, women’s education and training would be addressed in North Katanga.

With hope in their hearts for a better tomorrow, the women of Mulongo in the Democratic Republic of the Congo made bricks sometime in 2012 to build a much-needed women’s center, which they call a “foyer” with a French pronunciation.

The women came before the Mulongo District of The United Methodist Church in early 2013 to share their dream of building the training center for women. They were proud to say, we have 20,000 bricks already made to get the project started. Friendly Planet Missiology, present at that gathering, had been contacted by the North Central Jurisdiction Volunteers In Mission program about bringing a Mission Discovery team of young adults to Congo and were trying to see if the time was now right.

By June 2013, it was determined that Friendly Planet Missiology and an Indiana team leadership with the Rev. Bob Walters, as well as a young adult yet to be named as leaders, a team was poised to respond to these faithful women by coming to get acquainted and bring a gift of funds to help with the mortar – construction of the building.

In fact, according to Delaney Pavy Hart of Arlington UMC in Bloomington, “For two months, these women dug, molded, scraped, stacked, covered and fired 20,000 bricks, each woman working her share two days a week.”

That reality was fulfilled when the United Methodist Women of Indiana met in late July for their annual Mission u, school of Christian mission. By the end of the week, UMW leaders counted more than $10,000 for the Women’s Center project. (See story below.)

What’s a women’s center?

According to Pavy Hart, “The Democratic Republic of the Congo has been immersed in war for ten years, leaving many young girls parentless and because of prevalent, war-time rape, as mothers. Because of these circumstances, a whole generation of girls is facing the problem of raising their new families unequipped with basic literacy, money-making or household skills.

“The UMW of Mulongo are starting the Foyer so that the young women and girls of the community will have the opportunities that they, themselves, did not have: the opportunity to learn to read, which helps women into leadership positions, the opportunity to learn how to create wares to sell and produce an income, and the opportunity to learn how to take care of a family.”

Pavy Hart shared her experience in the DRC during the Aug. 8-10 Mission RoundUP sponsored by the North Central Jurisdiction Volunteers In Mission program at Epworth Forest Camp and Conference Center in North Webster, Ind. She also held a concert during the RoundUP with proceeds going to the Money for Mortar Project.

The 20,000 bricks were made by the women on faith that somehow, some way God would provide the much needed mortar. For them having it ready for 2015 or 2016 wasn’t important. The bricks gave them the hope that one day in the future, women’s education and training would be addressed in North Katanga.

The team

The team leading the women’s center efforts here in Indiana are Leigh Shepherd of Calvary UMC in Brownsburg and Delaney Pavy Hart of Arlington UMC in Bloomington. They were joined by Stevey Willey of the West Ohio UM Conference earlier in July as a three-member Mission Discovery team of young adults to Mulongo. That trip was arranged by the North Central Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church and United Methodist-related Friendly Planet Missiology (www.friendlyplanetmissiology.org) based in the DRC at Mulongo.

With the project funds nearing $20,000, this training center for women will be functional by this time next year. The women of Mulongo are counting on a team of United Methodist Women of Indiana to return in 2016 for the grand opening and dedication.

In the meantime, funds for Money for Mortar Project can be sent as an Indiana Conference Advance Special through the local church through Friendly Planet Missiology with Women’s Foyer on the memo line.