Kajiji, a small village and once thriving mission station, lies to the west near the Angolan border with the capital city of Kinshasa only hours away as the bird flies yet days distant due to lack of infrastructure. While seemingly inconsequential to the world at large, a village like Kajiji was also affected by the 30 years of dictatorship and seven years of civil war and, as the DRC seeks to rebuild itself following democratic elections in 2006, should not be forgotten.
In fact, in the 1950’s through 1980’s, Kajiji played a key role in education and health care in the region. With the support of the Mennonite Brethren church, US International Development Agency, Canadian International Development Agency, Kajiji maintained a nursing school, 150 bed hospital, two high schools, and a model primary school. Kajiji served not only its own people but those of the surrounding villages and communities, with a total population of more than 150,000, as well as many patients from other regions of the country and Angola.
Today, our dream for this Southern Region of the DR Congo is of testing seven community development pillars of as a framework for holistic development for a health zone. The concept of seven pillars was developed through testing the “Nudge Theory” among a group representing the different segments of the Kajiji society. They represented the churches, local government, young entrepreneurs, women, and local health institutions (public health, nursing school, and reference hospital).
These pillars are as follows and explained more fully on the Seven Pillars page:
- Communication, satellite phone and Community Radio
- Energy and Water (15 to 30 KW Solar generators, drilling wells)
- Education, youth, and leisure (Model School and Youth Center)
- Entrepreneurship and community banking
- Primary Health Care and infrastructures (17 Health Centers, hospital, nursing school)
- Peacebuilding, Leadership Development, and Good Governance
- Transportation and infrastructure (roads, and bridges).