OUTREACH PROJECT INTERVIEW: “We hear a lot about child labour in the mining industry and although we see mining companies strengthening their procedures to prevent illegal (and underage) miners, we don’t see enough alternatives offered to youth upstream”

Sarah Moser, BUMI, DRC Mining Week1)      Let’s start with some background on BUMI and your activities in the DRC?
BUMI means “LIFE” in Kiluba, one of the 250 languages spoken in DRC. As a non-profit organization we aim at providing better life and future to orphans and vulnerable children. A vulnerable child is a child at high risk of lacking adequate care and protection. In practice, it includes abandoned or abused children, but also children and youth living in the streets or being economically and sexually exploited. BUMI welcomes these children and provides them with housing, education, vocational training and health. Above all, we restore their dignity, give them love and self-confidence. Currently we provide global care to 150 children.

Caption: Sarah Moser with some of the BUMI children.

2)      Any particular projects that you are involved in currently in Lubumbashi that you are very excited about?
We hear a lot about child labour in the mining industry but although we see mining companies strengthening their procedures to prevent illegal (and underage) miners, we don’t see enough alternatives offered to the youth upstream. 

A few years ago we started an agriculture and farming programme aiming at training youth while generating income and food for covering our needs. Year after year we have noticed how this programme could be a real opportunity for the youth, especially for those who couldn’t attend normal schooling and were used to work and earn money. BUMI, DRC Mining Week

The teenagers following our programme are being trained in agriculture and income generating activities like poultry, horticulture and gardening, in addition to academic upgrading. They can also sell some of their produce on the market to make pocket money. Later in their lives, they can create their own business and become independent.

We are very proud of a dozen young people who have finished their curriculum at BUMI and now work in agriculture for a living. This year our focus is to take this programme to a higher level by streamlining and developing the production and the marketing. We already supply individuals and restaurants like the Pullman Grand Karavia, The Luano City Farmers’ Market and the Bambou and we want to extend our customer range by opening a Sunday Market.

3) What kind of support are you seeking from mining companies and other actors of the sector?
We believe the mining sector can make a significant contribution to social actions by supporting grassroots organizations like ours. Often, mining companies contracts ad hoc agencies to implement their CSR projects. By doing so, they can have a direct control of the costs and outcome but this strategy can make the impact less sustainable. BUMI has more than 20 years of experience in the Child Protection and has showed robustness throughout the years.

Mining companies can use our knowledge and experience to address the social needs of the local communities while we can benefit from the leverage their support can create. For example, we are looking for funding to build new family houses and in the long run to extend our actions to other areas where children and youth are in distress. By supporting the development of our activities, the mining companies allow us to achieve our mission while addressing their CSR needs.

4) We are very excited about partnering with you to try and make a contribution to support you in your important work. Your thoughts?
We are really thankful for the trust and commitment the DRC Mining Week is showing to our social projects. This partnership is extremely important as it comes with a long term capacity building support. For instance, this year our partnership will focus on our Reception and Family reintegration programme, that takes place at our Center in Kamalondo, a working-class district in Lubumbashi. This is the place where children are being brought, sometimes with trauma, malnutrition or other issues.

Lucien Moser, founder BUMI, DRC Mining WeekOur team of educators provides immediate psychological, medical and legal support and initiates research in the hope of understanding the child background, and finding some relatives willing - and capable to take care of the child. This is a key element of our work: On average 10 kids per month are being directly reintegrated in their family, usually along with mediation and follow-up visits. Those who can’t be reintegrated are sent to our Children's Village where they will join one of our family houses. By reinforcing our team and means, we will be able to accept and reintegrate more children, which means less children at risk.

For more information: http://www.bumi-rdc.org

Caption: BUMI founder Papa Lucien Moser