“I was one of the Petite Flamme children, and schooling gave me the chance to do something fulfilling in life,” recounted Trésor, 29, and currently a mathematics student at the National College, in a video projected during the awards ceremony held last 29 April at the Jewish Museum of Berlin. Jean Paul Ngandu Masamuna, 31, Engineer and seventh of nine children, added: “When I was a child, my father had gone to war, and my mother had nothing to bring us up with. We had to fight for survival and Petite Flamme gave me daily sustenance and the possibility to study. My friends went to Europe but every time I speak to them, they tell me that they have nothing, and being unemployed and without documents, they do not have the liberty I have, and that their dreams have not been fulfilled. I love living in Kinshasa with my Congolese people. I want to stay and work in Africa to save the lives of many people who suffer.”
Immigration, the need to stop the carnage at sea, the urgency for political initiatives of the international community in favour of some Sub-Saharian and mid-oriental regions, were the topics discussed during the proceedings of “The Roland Berger Human Dignity Award” in Berlin. The event was attended by: the German Minister of Foreign Affairs, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Romano Prodi, former President of the European Commission, and other exponents of the economic and political worlds.
During the event, the “Roland Berger Foundation” operating in Germany in support of human rights and disadvantaged students awarded the 2015 prize, dedicated to the commitment to defend the life and dignity of refugees and forestall immigration issues. Among the winners, besides Petite Flamme, were two heroic women involved in helping refugees: Dr. Katrine Camilleri from Malta, who has been involved for years in giving refugees legal support, and Dr. Alganesc Fessaha, President of the NGO, “Gandhi,” who offers humanitarian assistance to African refugees.
“It all sprang from an idea of Chiara Lubich – recounts Dada Diambu who, together with Odon Makela, coordinates the local project – when she launched the New Families’ “support from afar” project in order to cope with the difficult situation many children worldwide undergo. Petite Flamme was created in 1996 to offer education to the children of Ndolo, an extremely poor district of Kinshasa. The children are undernourished, and because of this the priority was to offer meals and necessary medical care. In the following years new centres were opened, and the scholastic cycle expanded the offer to adolescents and families, with classes for blind and deaf kids. Then the experience went to include “after-school under the tree” activities: 14 classes held under 14 trees due to the lack of other structures. Under constant development, the project centres located in the poor outskirts of Kinshasa then spread to Idiofa in Bandundu at 750 km from the capital, and to Kisandu in Bas-Kongo and Kikwit. The project is financed by various associations and NGOs, and by the Association for New Families onlus, that ensures education, medical care, and nutrition for 2,400 boys and girls, helping them to become free persons, since they have the possibility to be free from poverty and have the capacity to build a dignified life for themselves and the community.
«During the European Union’s “Eufor” military mission tasked with safeguarding the elections in Congo in 2006 – explained Monika-Maria Wolff for years a resident in Congo – the rear admiral Henning Bess, head of the German soldiers and Vice-Captain of the mission got to know about “Petite Flamme.” Since then he has been involved, with his troops, in many huge aid campaigns. After the end of the mission the rear admiral continued with his wife, Julie Müller, to support Petite Flamme – along with the “support from afar” project of the New Families that has a network of over 350 German supporters.»
The ceremony featured a round table on the outcomes of the recent special EU Summit on immigration, attended by Romano Prodi, Foreign Affairs Minister, Steinmeier, a representative of the UN’s High Commissioner for refugees, journalists and members of the various humanitarian organizations. The summit highlighted two solutions as the only ones possible for a sustainable support: that the International communities cooperate in a more compact and decisive way for peace, and support the initiatives aimed at resolving – following the example of Petite Flamme –the problem at its roots, and give the youth a chance to conduct a dignified life in their own countries without having to turn to escaping towards the north and wellbeing.