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Butoke is a small NGO which works in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) with the poorest people on earth.

Butoke is run by Dr. Jean Lumbala Muamba, a doctor who is also an agronomist. It runs several schools, looks after orphaned children, provides basic healthcare and feeds the malnourished and starving who come through its doors. It also runs a food security programme: its agronomists have helped farmers who abandoned their fields during the civil war to re-establish their crops. Finally, its Justice Project helps victims of sexual violence.

Butoke’s main activities

Education: with the assistance of its supporters Butoke built and opened a school in September 2015. The school had a difficult first year, but kept going and many children have received education that they would not have received without Butoke.

By 2018 Butoke was operating two primary schools as well as a secondary school. The primary schools had 570 students and the secondary school 311. The secondary school provides both academic and vocational training. In particular, it offers tailoring courses which are popular with some of the most disadvantaged students as they offer the prospect of immediate paid employment. In 2020  Butoke’s schools were closed for prolonged periods as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. They opened again in early 2021.

Butoke tries to assist some of the ablest children who pass through its schools to go on to higher education. Currently it provides 15 students (8 women and 7 men) with university “scholarships”. The subjects they are studying include law, medicine, nutrition, health management, nursing, midwifery and psychology.  The scholarships are intended to cover the cost of tuition and materials and are for between $400 and $800 a year.

The ongoing scale of the crisis in education in the DRC is illustrated by the fact that there are about 2 million 6 and 7 year olds who are not in school at all because of a lack of school places.

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Butoke’s nutrition programme: one of the problems Butokes faces is that the communities with which it works are so impoverished that malnutrition is ignored until it becomes acute or infections develop. There is some hope, however, with the UN’s 10 year plan to combat chronic malnutrition in the DRC.

Butoke’s  nutrition programme is focused on the children who live in its orphanage. They normally include children with no known family, children with no parents but some local relatives who are unable to care for them, and children whose mothers have died and whose fathers will not care for them. This last category may have been abandoned by their fathers and been accused of being “witches” (and as such responsible for the deaths of their mothers).

Butoke provides nutritional assistance to children identified by its Tshikaji health post or community visits as malnourished. They enter a short term rehabilitation programme, including a feeding programme and training for their parents in proper nutrition.

The clinic: the Musue Bantue Health Centre is Butoke’s main clinic. Its quality has been recognised by it being appointed the supervisory healthcare centre for the area by the authorities – but unfortunately the authorities do not contribute towards its running costs.

The clinic might typically treat about 100 patients a month. It deals with patients suffering from diseases such as malaria and typhoid and has an operating theatre. Its staff regularly carry out operations to deal with hernias and caesarian sections.

The orphanage and shelter for the elderly: typically the orphanage cares for 40 to 70 orphans.  Many new orphans arrived as a result of the violence in the Kasai province in 2018. In recent times, Butoke has also operated a shelter for the elderly. These will tend to be old people who have no family and who are completely without resources of their own.

Agriculture and fish farming: Butoke works with around 30 local agricultural associations. Butoke insists that women are involved in the management committees of its association partners. Butoke has helped educate its association partners in agricultural techniques, for example helping to introduce cassava varieties which are resistant to common pests. Butoke introduced fish farming to a number of its association partners to increase the amount of protein available to villagers.

The Justice Project: Butoke provides assistance to the victims of sexual violence. In particular it provides legal assistance  (without which cases will not be prosecuted) and medical care.

The Friends of Butoke Charity

The Friends of Butoke Charity (Registered Charity no. 1140094) raises funds for Butoke. 100% of the money given to the Friends of Butoke Charity goes to Butoke as the running costs of the Charity are covered by the trustees: Matthew Pollard, Adriane Pollard, Marleen Tiemens and Paul Evans.

The Charity has its books independently examined each year by a Fellow of the Association of Charity Independent Examiners. Copies of the annual independent examination reports are available on request.

Contact details

For all and any queries email Paul Evans, one of the trustees, paulevans@blueyonder.co.uk

You can sign up to our annual newsletter and other communications here.

The Friends of Butoke Charity, Registered number 1140094 (England and Wales) Registered Office: 5 Westville Avenue Ilkley LS29 9AH