History of MMH Hope
Mama Makeka House of Hope (MMH Hope) is a Nonprofit Organization established in 2002 in memory of Mama Makeka Rebecca, who died in the Democratic Republic of the Congo due to inadequate health care services. The goals of Mama Makeka House of Hope are to promote and support initiatives related to health, education, and community empowerment for underserved communities, primarily in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Throughout her life, Mama Makeka believed that there was always room for other people around her table and in her life. MMH Hope has adopted her motto as our own: “There is always room for one more”. It is largely this generosity of hers that inspires us, but we are also inspired by the Anabaptist principles by which she lived in the context of the Frères Mennonites Community in which she lived and ministered.
Significant Past Projects
In Fresno, California, USA
The following are past projects in Fresno. Select the plus sign to learn more about any of these projects.
Theater As Way of Conflict Management
We conducted, in partnership with McLane High School, two years of training in theater for high school students as a way of dealing with personal, family, and community related conflicts. Several students have credited participation in that program as having been instrumental in helping them from joining gang groups, being killed by one, or being the only one in their group to graduate from high school. Several of these students have maintained contact with our Executive Director. Two especially are worth mentioning. One has graduated with two degrees, BA in business administration and RN working in a local hospital. The second recently graduated with a MBA at California State University, Fresno.
Family at One
With funding from Fresno County First Five Program, MMH Hope, under the title of Fresno Bright Horizons for Children, conducted a systematic study of Eugene, Oregon-based Relief Nursery and Sacramento Area Emergency Housing Center (SAEHC), and assessed the feasibility of adapting these programs in West Fresno. Families At One was envisioned to be the result of the Fresno Bright Horizons for Children feasibility study. The goal of Families At One was to strengthen families living in West Fresno through combined high quality and accessible child care and preschool services, home visits, and approachable mental health services. Due to our decision to narrow our focus to DR Congo, this program was never implemented. However, the report was given to Fresno County First Five with the hope of being implemented by another agency. Lessons learned from developing Family at One will be valuable for our future education programs in the DR Congo.
The following are past projects in Zimbabwe. Select the plus sign to learn more about each of these projects.
We worked with one orphanage where we provided all the children with new quilts that were made by women from then College Community Church Mennonite Brethren. We also provided funding to replace kitchen equipment. Children from College Community MB wrote letters of encouragement to every single child at the orphanage that were hand delivered by our Executive Director.
It was after the Mennonite Conference General Assembly in Bulawayo that we were introduced to Tecla by a couple who stayed in her guesthouse. Tecla had a ministry of assisting children orphaned by HIV/AIDS. During our initial visit, we observed that most of these children were being cared for by families that were themselves already destitute. We agreed that building small homes for these families was the best option to consider. People in Fresno donated funding and we built five houses. A young woman from Fresno volunteered to spend a year in Bulawayo to assist Tecla with orphans’ projects as well as in marketing her guesthouse. The program was stopped when in a pre-election period the ruling authorities started threatening all the foreigners, especially Americans, and suspecting them of being spies.
In the DR Congo
The following are past projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Select the plus sign to learn more about any of these projects.
Primary & Secondary Education
MMH Hope equipped two girls’ schools in Congo with sewing machine and supplies, coordinated an international consultation on the future of primary and secondary education by Congolese Mennonite churches that co-manage primary and secondary schools with a student population of more than 80,000, facilitated the development of a K-12 religious studies curriculum for these schools, and served as the channel for university scholarships in multi-disciplinary areas in support of lay leadership development for the church. We continue to serve in an advisory role in matters pertaining to education.
As to university scholarships, MMH Hope has served in an advisory and channeling role over the years for an annual special family Christmas initiative which has aided several hundred Congolese students in pursuit of a university education within the country. To carry on this work in perpetuity, family and friends of former Congo missionary, Mama Tillie Wall, have established an endowment of about $200,000 in her name as part of the scholarship endowment portfolio of the International Community of Mennonite Brethren (ICOMB). MMH Hope continues in an advisory role to the Congo Mennonite Brethren Church to assure equal access and fair distribution of scholarship funds.
MMH Hope provided medicine and medical supplies to a rural hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo that serves more than 150,000 people. MMH Hope also assisted as consultant to Mennonite Central Committee in developing Menno Santé that supported more than five Mennonite related hospitals serving close to one million people in medicine for a period of 5 years.
MMH Hope provided one volunteer to one orphanage in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, for a year. We also provided school supplies and clothing to the children of the same orphanage. The Executive Director assisted Mennonite World Conference by organizing an international consultation that brought together 30 service agencies to explore the possibility of developing a global service entity. He also served as the chair of the Provisional Task Force that was created at the end of the consultation to plan future consultations and permanent structure.
Center for Peacebuilding
MMH Hope partnered with North American based supporters to provide financial and technical support to the Kinshasa Center for Peacebuilding, Leadership, and Good Governance, founded and directed by Pascal Kulungu until his untimely death in January of 2019, shortly after being elected to the National Parliament. Kulungu has trained hundreds of pastors, lay leaders and students in peacemaking, as well as mediated conflicts such as a national church leadership conflict in the Congo Mennonite Brethren Church. This intervention was climaxed by separate meetings with men, which he led, and women, which his wife Therese led. They then met together in a grand celebration of reconciliation.
Urgent Peace Project
In preparation for the first multi-party free election since independence in 1960, held in July of 2006, Kulungu chaired a committee coordinating a Mennonite Central Committee sponsored “Urgent Peace Project” through which they trained some 200,000 Congolese in preparation for this election. Members of the MMH Hope team from North America present at the time also participated as election observers on that historic occasion.
Healing and Learning from Memories
MMH Hope Executive Director has also served as consultant to Mennonite World Conference to develop a program entitled, “Healing and Learning from Memories”. The program is intended for Mennonite World Conference to create “safe spaces” for conversations leading to the healing of past wounds among and within MWC member churches.
Eastern Congo Sexual Violence
In Eastern Congo, MMH Hope was involved, to begin with, in providing moral support by visiting women having experienced trauma of sexual violence in the Walungu region near Bukavu. We organized three trips composed of men and women from DR Congo and North America to comfort groups of 30, 25, and more than 100 women respectively. We also sent a team of two OBGYN doctors to spend time at Walungu Reference Hospital to work with a team of physicians to explore the possibility of training them in how to do specialized surgery for fistula repairs.
That trip was very revealing for MMH Hope. There were not as many cases of fistula due to sexual violence as we were made to believe. The majority of cases were obstetric fistula due to multiple birthing, but which still needed repairs. The trip was a determining factor in our decision to discontinue our presence there besides the fact that a very specialized hospital was in nearby Bukavu that was treating women suffering with all forms of fistula.
Eastern Congo Weapons Exchange
In Eastern Congo, MMH Hope was involved in a program encouraging militia group members to exchange weapons with roofing tins or bicycles. The Executive Director and a team from Kinshasa and North America participated in a special event organized by our contact person where militia group members were supposed to return weapons in exchange with roofing tins provided by MMH Hope. The event was organized in an open field with a big crowd and in the presence of the South Kivu Governor. Not a single weapon was returned that day.
The team found out later that women in the group were murmuring in a local language that as soon as the first militia member would show up, they were going to tear him in small pieces. Our MMH Hope team was disappointed. However, arrangements were made to have the roofing tins to be sent to a different village where such exchange would be conducted in a discreet manner using the Catholic Priests who were trusted in that community. It should be noted that our team met a group of UN Peacekeepers who asked them what they were doing in the operation zone without first stopping at their office. Our Executive Director informed them that they had courteous visits with the General in charge of that military region, the City Mayor, and the Governor. He also pointed out to them that the Governor with his team had accompanied them and he therefore did not see the need to ask permission from anyone else.
MMH Hope staff and board members believe that a person is only a person through other persons, to draw on South African Bishop Desmond Tutu’s characterization of the African concept of ubuntu So a professional is also only a professional through other professionals. Consequently, we continue to facilitate annual exchanges of health professionals with the Kajiji Health Zone in southwest, DR. Congo. Two board members who are physicians visited Kajiji, once together and a second time the OBGYN spent a week there with another OBGYN
House of Hope
“Where there’s always room for one more…”