Youth help their peers through small businesses

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Key points:

  • The youth group at Kabondo Center United Methodist Church helped build a shop on the church compound to house equipment to generate income for young people.
  • As the project began, the youth were encouraged to contribute weekly to the effort. Seventy to 100 youth donated to kickstart the project.
  • The young people make and market ice to people who fish for a living. They also sell soft drinks and generate income from teachers who pay to use their printer.

Through small-scale businesses, Kabondo Center United Methodist Church youth are helping their peers who struggle with school fees and other expenses.

The church’s youth group worked together to build a shop on the church compound to house equipment to generate income for young people.

The project was initiated by former youth president William Ilunga Mushimukata.

“Tomorrow belongs to us,” he said. “Today, we are young, and tomorrow we will be pastors (and) lay leaders of the church that we love much. Building a shop for income generation is the beginning of change.” 

The youth shared their vision with Nsenga Mukongele Medard, who served five years as their pastor. “When I was appointed as a local pastor in Kabondo,” Nsenga recalled, “there were a lot of youth without jobs. They were very active in the church, (but) without jobs, they could not afford to pay school fees.”

In support of Bishop Mande Muyombo’s 2021 focus on self-propagation, self-determination and self-sustenance, the youth were encouraged to contribute weekly to the effort. Seventy to 100 youth donated to kick off the project.

Youth committee members made and sold bricks. They used the remaining bricks to build a shop to hold a printer and a refrigerator.

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Lakes surround the community, and fishing is a major occupation. Fish are transported about 30 miles to Kabondo. With the refrigerator, the youth make ice to sell to people who fish daily. Ice keeps the fish cold, and the committee earns about $50 a day for a $5 investment in each cool box. Cool boxes enable them to carry ice from Kabondo to Mbala, Twale and Kimba.

The youth also sell soft drinks in the shop.

The printer is another income generator. The committee buys reams of paper, and primary and secondary teachers pay to make copies.

The current youth president, Ngulu Mingi, said he looks forward to continuing the youth vision. “I found in the youth account some money kept by the local church treasurer,” Mingi said. “I recognized the work done by my predecessor.”

Business is thriving. During annual conference sessions, lay and clergy delegates bought water and drinks from the shop. “I am grateful to those who have contributed,” Mingi said, adding that it was a joy to see the youth initiative succeeding.

Kayembe Mwanabute Ismael, current pastor of Kabondo Center United Methodist Church, is proud to see youth committed to business and support of local church activities. “Youth should not be beggars,” he said. “They should be encouraged.”

The youth committee paid fees for two youth at secondary school in Kabondo. Another youth is receiving financial support at the university in Kamina.

“The project has impacted church youth for their education,” Mingi said. “That is why, as the current president, I continue with the same vision. Today, I am young; tomorrow, I may be a pastor, a teacher, a medical doctor or a school headmaster, thanks to the youth initiative in Kabondo.”

Hugo Banza Kyakulomba, a former youth committee member, invited church leaders to support the initiative. “Any further support will be much appreciated, as we are committed to helping each other,” he said.

The shop is a youth legacy as well as a local church legacy, the current and former pastors said.

Calling the endeavor “a great youth witness in Kabondo,” Nsenga expressed joy in seeing the spirit of development, unity, mutual help and role modeling.

Kazadi Musau is director of communications for the North Katanga Conference.

News media contact: Julie Dwyer at [email protected]. To read more United Methodist news, subscribe to the free Daily or Weekly Digests.

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