Archives For Republic of Congo


by Mara Seibert, HOPE fellow in the Republic of Congo, reposted from

This Mother’s Day, HOPE is honoring the creativity, dedication, and love of the women we serve as they work to provide for their families. Join us in honoring the many roles mothers like Ghislaine play through our “We Heart Moms” campaign.

7 a.m. Early enough that clouds still cover the sky and the air is cool. Children in blue and white uniforms walk to school, and Brazzaville is waking up. Breakfast in Brazzaville depends on where you live. Some people prefer bread and eggs, others substitute manioc for the bread, and then you have one of the most bizarrely cross-cultural meals I have witnessed: spaghetti with beans and mayonnaise. Some of my colleagues eat it for breakfast, and the bite I had was surprisingly good.

One of my favorite Congolese breakfast items would have to be beignets—essentially a Congolese doughnut, sweet and fried in oil. Here, beignets and riz-au-lait (sweet rice in milk) are made by Congolese mamas all around Brazzaville early in the morning, and on this particular morning I was finally going to try some of Mama Ghislaine’s beignets.

Ghislaine holding beignets

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Paniel Community Bank

by Mara Seibert, reposted from

HOPE recently welcomed three communications fellows, who’ve traveled to the field for a year to report how God is moving in those programs. In this blog post, Mara Seibert, serving in the Republic of Congo, shares her first experience witnessing a community bank meeting.

Makélékélé. The trick is learning to spell it first. The pronunciation just rolls off your tongue … mah-kel-eh-kel-eh. The next trick is getting a taxi to take you there. We took a green taxi to get there, Précy and I. Not that there is anything special about a green taxi in Brazzaville—all of the taxis are a vibrant shade of forest green, populating the streets like a metal forest. Winding through the streets of Brazzaville from HOPE Congo’s office to the neighborhood of Makélékélé is not an easy trek for taxis because of Marché Total: an enormous sprawling market with an ever-present traffic jam going through the middle of it.

As we drove, Précy kept up a running commentary about city life, how most of the population uses the green-painted public transportation: taxis, buses (vans painted green), and even bigger vehicles. Buses are cheaper than taxis but also more crowded. For Précy, they have their own appeal: “Buses are my favorite means of transport. You hear a lot of things. Lies, truths, news …” Taxis squeeze by each other in seemingly incomprehensible patterns with millimeters to spare that left me holding my breath—that would also be because of the wafting aroma of petrol. Finally we arrive near the church of Makélékélé and walk past small stands and businesses selling anything and everything from wine to used clothing, backpacks to hot food, and walk into the group meeting.

Counting a repayment

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It is common in our culture to assume that living in extreme poverty must inevitably be a depressing, hopeless experience. People are suffering. Conditions are challenging. Systems are broken. The scale of the problems is huge. Reasons for optimism are fleeting.

Let’s make this a little more personal. When you step back and consider your subconscious thoughts, is this what you expect from those who live in economic poverty? Do you subtly assume that the lack of certain resources and comforts must naturally produce lives full of discouragement—if not outright desperation?

Well, I want you to join me on a morning of visiting clients at their businesses in the Marché Total market in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. The pictures you see below show each client we met that day. I recognize that one picture does not accurately encapsulate a person’s entire perspective on life, but if you had to assign one word or phrase to each picture, what would it be?

Ntibila Gauthier

Gauthier Ntibila started attending church as a result of his relationship with HOPE. Continue Reading…

Sosthene Hubert Roger Lubaki

Sosthene Hubert Roger Lubaki opened his dry cleaning business in Oenze, Republic of Congo, 10 years ago. Through the shop, he provides for his wife and three children, aged 7, 11, and 21, yet his earnings have been limited by his limited inventory. He recently received his first loan from HOPE Congo, enabling him to purchase more dry cleaning materials so that he can clean a wider array of items and increase his earnings.

Bertin Jonas Kihoulou

When Bertin Jonas Kihoulou started his business selling bags and sandals in 1996, he had only $20 worth of merchandise. While he worked hard to improve his business, it wasn’t enough to fulfill his dreams of providing his three children with a better education and improving his family’s housing. So when he heard about HOPE Congo, Bertin decided to take out a loan, which he used to buy a greater variety of bags. Now he makes up to $50 a day and has plans to eventually sell in bulk to other shop owners. Along with the loan, Bertin appreciates HOPE Congo’s honesty and friendliness and refers many of his friends to HOPE.